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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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University of Toronto 

TwicE-ToLD Tales. 



Chicago and New York: 




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MAY 7 1C6 

"'Sin OF TO'^^'i^i^ 






The Gray Champion 5 

Sunday at Home 15 

The Wedding-Knell 23 

>^HE Minister's Black Veil 33 

I/I'he Maypole of Merry Mount 49 

The Gentle Boy 63 

Mr. Hiqginbotham's Catastrophe 99 

Little Annie's Ramble 113 

Wakefield 123 

A EiLL FROM the Town Pump 133 

The Great Carbuncle 141 

The Prophetic Pictures 159 

David Swan 175 

Sights from a Steeple 183 

The Hollow of the Three Hills 191 

The Toll-Gatherer's Day 197 

The Vision of the Fountain 204 

Fancy's Show-Box 211 

Dr. Heidegger's Experiment 218 

Legends of the Province House: 

I. — Howe's Masquerade 233 

II. — Edward Randolph's Portrait 249 

III. — Lady Eleanore's Mantle 263 

IV.— Old Esther Dudley 281 




The Haunted Mind 294 

The Village Uncle c . 300 

The Ambitious Guest 313 

The Sister- Years 323 

Snowflakes 332 

The Seven Vagabonds 338 

The White Old Maid 358 

Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure 370 

Chippings with a Chisel 393 

The Shaker Bridal 405 

Night-Sketches 412 

\/ Endicott and the Red Cross 419 

The Lily's Quest 427 

Footprints on the Seashore 435 

Edward Fane's Rosebud 447 

The Threefold Destiny 455 



There was once a time wHen New England groaned 
under the actual pressure of heavier wrongs than those 
threatened ones which brought on the Revolution. James 
II., the bigoted successor of Charles the Voluptuous, had 
annulled the charters of all the colonies and sent a harsh 
and unprincipled soldier to take away our liberties and 
endanger our religion. The administration of Sir Edmund 
Andros lacked scarcely a single characteristic of tyranny 
— a governor and council holding office from the king and 
wholly independent of the country ; laws made and taxes 
levied without concurrence of the people, immediate or by 
their representatives ; the rights of private citizens violated 
and the titles of all landed property declared void; the 
voice of complaint stifled by restrictions on the press ; and 
finally, disaffection overawed by the first band of mercenary 
troops that ever marched on our free soil. For two years 
our ancestors were kept in sullen submission by that filial love 
which had invariably secured their allegiance to the mother- 
country, whether its head chanced to be a Parliament, Pro- 
tector or popish monarch. Till these evil times, however, 
such allegiance had been merely nominal, and the colonists 
had ruled themselves, enjoying far more freedom than is 



even yet the privilege of the native subjects of Great 

At length a rumor reached our shores that the prince of 
Orange had ventured on an enterprise the success of which 
would be the triumph of civil and religious rights and the 
salvation of New England. It was but a doubtful whisper ; 
it might be false or the attempt might fail, and in either 
case the man that stirred against King James would lose his 
head. Still, the intelligence produced a marked effect. 
The people smiled mysteriously in the streets and threw 
bold glances at their oj^pressors, while far and wide there 
was a subdued and silent agitation, as if the slightest signal 
would rouse the whole land from its sluggish despondency. 
Aware of their danger, the rulers resolved to avert it by an 
imposing display of strength, and perhaps to confirm their 
despotism by yet harsher measures. 

One afternoon in April, 1689, Sir Edmund Andros and 
his favorite councillors, being warm with wine, assembled 
the red-coats of the governor's guard and made their ap- 
pearance in the streets of Boston. The sun was near setting 
when the march commenced. The roll of the drum at that 
unquiet crisis seemed to go through the streets less as the 
martial music of the soldiers than as a muster-call to the 
inhabitants themselves. A multitude by various avenues 
assembled in King street, which was destined to be the 
scene, nearly a century afterward, of another encounter be- 
tween the troops of Britain and a people struggling against 
her tyranny. 

Though more than sixty years had elapsed since the Pil- 
grims came, this crowd of their descendants still showed the 
strong and sombre features of their character perhaps more 
strikingly in such a stern emergency than on happier occa- 
sions. There was the sober garb, the general severity of 
mien, the gloomy but undismayed expression, the scriptural 
forms of speech and the confidence in Heaven's blessing on 
a righteous cause which would have marked a band of the 


original Puritans when threatened by some peril of the 
wilderness. Indeed, it was not yet time for the old spirit to 
be extinct, since there were men in the street that day who 
had worshipped there beneath the trees before a house was 
reared to the God for whom they had become exiles. Old 
soldiers of the Parliament were here, too, smiling grimly at 
the thought that their aged arms might strike another blow 
against the house of Stuart. Here, also, were the veterans 
of King Philip's war, who had burned villages and 
slaughtered young and old with pious fierceness while the 
godly souls throughout the land were helping them with 
prayer. Several ministers were scattered among the crowd, 
which, unlike all other mobs, regarded them with such 
reverence as if there were sanctity in their very garments. 
These holy men exerted their influence to quiet the people, 
but not to disperse them. 

Meantime, the purpose of the governor in disturbing the 
peace of the town at a period when the slightest commotion 
might throw the country into a ferment was almost the 
Universal subject of inquiry, and variousl)'' explained. 

"Satan will strike his master-stroke presently," cried 
some, " because he knoweth that his time is short. All our 
godly pastors are to be dragged to prison. We shall see 
them at a Smithfield fire in King street." 

Hereupon the people of each parish gathered closer 
round their minister, who looked calmly upward and 
assumed a more apostolic dignity, as well befitted a candi- 
date for the highest honor of his profession — a crown of 
martyrdom. It was actually fancied at that period that 
Kew England might have a John Rogers of her own to 
take the place of that worthy in the Primer. 

" The pope of Rome has given orders for a new St. Bar- 
tholomew," cried others. " We are to be massacred, man 
and male-child." 

Neither was this rumor wholly discredited, although the 
wiser class believed the governor's object somewhat less 


atrocious. His predecessor under the old charter, Bradstreet, 
a venerable companion of the first settlers, was known to be 
in town. There were grounds for conjecturing that Sir 
Edmund Andros intended at once to strike terror by a 
parade of military force and to confound the opposite 
faction by possessing himself of their chief. 

" Stand firm for the old charter-governor !'* shouted the 
crowd, seizing upon the idea — "the good old Governor 
Bradstreet !" 

While this cry was at the loudest the people were sur- 
prised by the well-known figure of Governor Bradstreet him- 
self, a patriarch of nearly ninety, who appeared on the ele- 
vated steps of a door and with characteristic mildness be- 
sought them to submit to the constituted authorities. 

"My children," concluded this venerable person, "do 
nothing rashly. Cry not aloud, but pray for the welfare of 
New England and expect patiently what the Lord will do 
in this matter." 

The event was soon to be decided. All this time the roll 
of the drum had been approaching through Cornhill, louder 
and deeper, till with reverberations from house to house 
and the regular tramp of martial footsteps it burst into the 
street. A double rank of soldiers made their appearance, 
occupying the whole breadth of the passage, with shouldered 
matchlocks and matches burning, so as to present a row of 
fires in the dusk. Their steady march was like the progress 
of a machine that would roll irresistibly over everything 
in its way. Next, moving slowly, with a confused clatter of 
hoofs on the pavement, rode a party of mounted gentlemen, 
the central figure being Sir Edmund Andros, elderly, but 
erect and soldier-like. Those around him were his favorite 
councillors and the bitterest foes of Nev/ England. At his 
right hand rode Edward Randolph, our arch-enemy, that 
" blasted wretch," as Cotton Mather calls him, who achieved 
the downfall of our ancient government and was followed 
with a sensible curse through life and to his grave. On the 


other side was Bullivant, scattering jests and mockery as lie 
rode along. Dudley came behind with a downcast look, 
dreading, as well he might, to meet the indignant gaze of 
the people, who beheld him, their only countryman by 
birth, among the oppressors of his native land. The captain 
of a frigate in the harbor and two or three civil officers 
under the Crown were also there. But the figure which 
most attracted the public eye and stirred up the deepest 
feeling was the Episcopal clergyman of King's Chapel 
riding haughtily among the magistrates in his priestly vest- 
ments, the fitting representative of prelacy and persecution, 
the union of Church and State, and all those abominations 
which had driven the Puritans to the wilderness. Another 
guard of soldiers, in double rank, brought up the rear. 

The whole scene was a picture of the condition of New 
England, and its moral, the deformity of any government 
that does not grow out of the nature of things and the 
character of the people — on one side the religious multitude 
with their sad visages and dark attire, and on the other the 
group of despotic rulers with the high churchman in the 
midst and here and there a crucifix at their bosoms, all 
magnificently clad, flushed with wine, proud of unjust 
authority and scofiing at the universal groan. And the 
mercenary soldiers, waiting but the word to deluge the 
street with blood, showed the only means by which obedience 
could be secured. 

"O Lord of hosts," cried a voice among the crowd, 
" provide a champion for thy people !" 

This ejaculation was loudly uttered, and served as a 
herald's cry to introduce a remarkable personage. The 
crowd had rolled back, and were now huddled together 
nearly at the extremity of the street, while the soldiers had 
advanced no more than a third of its length. The inter- 
vening space was empty — a paved solitude between lofty 
edifices which threw almost a twilight shadow over it. 
Suddenly there was seen the figure of an ancient man who 


seemed to have emerged from among the people and was 
walking by himself along the centre of the street to con- 
front the armed band. He wore the old Puritan dress — a 
dark cloak and a steeple-crowned hat in the fashion of at least 
fifty years before, with a heavy sword upon his thigh, but a 
staff in his hand to assist the tremulous gait of age. 

When at some distance from the multitude, the old man 
turned slowly round, displaying a face of antique majesty 
rendered doubly venerable by the hoary beard that de- 
scended on his breast. He made a gesture at once of 
encouragement and warning, then turned again and re- 
sumed his way. 

" Who is this gray patriarch ?" asked the young men of 
their sires. 

"AVho is this venerable brother?" asked the old men 
among themselves. 

But none could make reply. The fathers of the people, 
those of fourscore years and upward, were disturbed, deem- 
ing it strange that they should forget one of such evident 
authority whom they must have known in their early days, 
. the associate of Winthrop and all the old councillors, 
giving laws and making prayers and leading them against 
the savage. The elderly men ought to have remembered 
him, too, with locks as gray in their youth as their own 
were now. And the young ! How could he have passed 
so utterly from their memories — that hoary sire, the relic 
of long-departed times, whose awful benediction had surely 
been bestowed on their uncovered heads in childhood ? 

" Whence did he come ? What is his purpose ? Who 
can this old man be ?" whispered the wondering crowd. 

Meanwhile, the venerable stranger, staff in hand, was 
pursuing his solitary walk along the centre of the street. 
As he drew near the advancing soldiers, and as the roll of 
their drum came full upon his ear, the old man raised himself 
to a loftier mien, while the decrepitude of age seemed to 
fall from his shoulders, leaving him in gray but unbroken 


dignity. Now he marched onward with a warrior's step, 
keeping time to the military music. Thus the aged form 
advanced on one side and the whole parade of soldiers 
and magistrates on the other, till, when scarcely twenty 
yards remained between, the old man grasped his staff 
by the middle and held it before him like a leader's trun- 

" Stand !" cried he. 

The eye, the face and attitude of command, the solemn 
yet warlike peal of that voice — fit either to rule a host in 
the battle-field or be raised to God in prayer — were irresist- 
ible. At the old man's word and outstretched arm the roll 
of the drum was hushed at once and the advancing line 
stood still. A tremulous enthusiasm seized upon the multi- 
tude. That stately form, combining the leader and the 
saint, so gray, so dimly seen, in such an ancient garb, could 
only belong to some old champion of the righteous cause 
whom the oppressor's drum had summoned from his grave. 
They raised a shout of awe and exultation, and looked for 
the deliverance of New England. 

The governor and the gentlemen of his party, perceiving 
themselves brought to an unexpected stand, rode hastily 
forward, as if they would have pressed their snorting and 
affrighted horses right against the hoary apparition. He, 
however, blenched not a step, but, glancing his severe eye 
round the group, which half encompassed him, at last bent 
it sternly on Sir Edmund Andros. One would have thought 
that the dark old man was chief ruler there, and that the 
governor and council with soldiers at their back, represent- 
ing the whole power and authority of the Crown, had no 
alternative but obedience. 

" What does this old fellow here ?" cried Edward Kan- 
dolph, fiercely. — " On, Sir Edmund ! Bid the soldiers 
forward, and give the dotard the same choice that you 
give all his countrymen — to stand aside or be trampled 


" Nay, nay ! Let us show respect to the good grandsire," 
said Bullivant, laughing. " See you not he is some old 
round-headed dignitary who hath lain asleep these thirty 
years and knows nothing of the change of times ? Doubt- 
less he thinks to put us down with a proclamation in Old 
Noll's name." 

"Are you mad, old man?" demanded Sir Edmund 
Andros, in loud and harsh tones. " How dare you stay the 
march of King James's governor ?" 

" I have stayed the march of a king himself ere now," 
replied the gray figure, with stern composure. " I am here, 
Sir Governor, because the cry of an oppressed people hath 
disturbed me in my secret place, and, beseeching this favor 
earnestly of the Lord, it was vouchsafed me to appear once 
again on earth in the good old cause of his saints. And 
what speak ye of James? There is no longer a popish 
tyrant on the throne of England, and by to-morrow noon 
his name shall be a by-word in this very street, where ye 
would make it a word of terror. Back, thou that wast a 
governor, back ! With this night thy power is ended. 
To-morrow, the prison ! Back, lest I foretell the scaf- 
fold !" 

The people had been dra"sving nearer and nearer and 
drinking in the words of their champion, who spoke in 
accents long disused, like one unaccustomed to converse 
except with the dead of many years ago. But his voice 
stirred their souls. They confronted the soldiers, not 
wholly without arms and ready to convert the very stones 
of the street into deadly weapons. Sir Edmund Andros 
looked at the old man ; then he cast his hard and cruel eye 
over the multitude and beheld them burning with that 
lurid wrath so difficult to kindle or to quench, and again he 
fixed his gaze on the aged form which stood obscurely in an 
open space where neither friend nor foe had thrust himself. 
What were his thoughts he uttered no word which might 
discover, but, whether the oppressor were overawed by the 


Gray Champion's look or perceived his peril in the threat- 
ening attitude of the people, it is certain that he gave back 
and ordered his soldiers to commence a slow and guarded 
retreat. Before another sunset the governor and all that 
rode so proudly with him were prisoners, and long ere it 
was known that James had abdicated King William was 
proclaimed throughout New England. 

But where was the Gray Champion ? Some reported 
that when the troops had gone from King street and the 
people were thronging tumultuously in their rear, Brad- 
street, the aged governor, was seen to embrace a form more 
aged than his own. Others soberly affirmed that while 
they marvelled at the venerable grandeur of his aspect the 
old man had faded from their eyes, melting slowly into the 
hues of twilight, till where he stood there was an empty 
space. But all agreed that the hoary shape was gone. The 
men of that generation watched for his reappearance in sun- 
shine and in twilight, but never saw him more, nor knew 
when his funeral passed nor where his gravestone was. 

And who was the Gray Champion ? Perhaps his name 
might be found in the records of that stern court of justice 
which passed a sentence too mighty for the age, but glorious 
in all after-times for its humbling lesson to the monarch 
and its high example to the subject. I have heard that 
whenever the descendants of the Puritans are to show the 
spirit of their sires the old man appears again. \Vhen 
eighty years had passed, he walked once more in King 
street. Five years later, in the twilight of an April morn- 
ing, he stood on the green beside the meeting-house at 
Lexington where now the obelisk of granite with a slab 
of slate inlaid commemorates the first-fallen of the Revolu- 
tion. And when our fathers were toiling at the breast- 
work on Bunker's Hill, all through that night the old 
w^arrior walked his rounds. Long, long may it be ere 
he comes again ! His hour is one of darkness and adver- 
sity and peril. But should domestic tyranny oppress us or 


the invader's step pollute our soil, still may the Gray 
Champion come ! for he is the type of New England's 
hereditary spirit, and his shadowy march on the eve of 
danger must ever be the pledge that New England's sons 
will vindicate their ancestry. 


Every Sabbath morning in the summer-time I thrust 
back the curtain to watch the sunrise stealing down a 
steeple which stands opposite my chamber window. First 
the weathercock begins to flash ; then a fainter lustre gives 
the spire an airy aspect ; next it encroaches on the tower 
and causes the index of the dial to glisten like gold as it 
points to the gilded figure of the hour. Now the loftiest 
window gleams, and now the lower. The carved frame- 
work of the portal is marked strongly out. At length the 
morning glory in its descent from heaven comes down the 
stone steps one by one, and there stands the steeple glowing 
with fresh radiance, w^hile the shades of twilight still hide 
themselves among the nooks of the adjacent buildings. 
Methinks though the same sun brightens it every fair morn- 
ing, yet the steeple has a peculiar robe of brightness for the 

By dwelling near a church a person soon contracts an 
attachment for the edifice. We naturally personify it, and 
conceive its massy walls and its dim emptiness to be 
instinct with a calm and meditative and somewhat melan- 
choly spirit. But the steeple stands foremost in our 
thoughts, as well as locally. It impresses us as a giant 
with a mind comprehensive and discriminating enough 
to care for the great and small concerns of all the town. 
Hourly, while it speaks a moral to the few that think, it 
reminds thousands of busy individuals of their separat3 and 



most secret affairs. It is the steeple, too, that flings abroad 
the hurried and irregular accents of general alarm ; neither 
have gladness and festivity found a better utterance than 
by its tongue; and when the dead are slowly passing to 
their home, the steeple has a melancholy voice to bid 
them welcome. Yet, in spite of this connection with 
human interests, what a moral loneliness on week-days 
broods round about its stately height ! It has no kindred 
with the houses above which it towers ; it looks down 
into the narrow thoroughfare — the lonelier because the 
crowd are elbowing their passage at its base. A glance 
at the body of the church deepens this impression. Within, 
by the light of distant windows, amid refracted shadows we 
discern the vacant pews and empty galleries, the silent 
organ, the voiceless pulpit and the clock which tells to 
solitude how time is passing. Time — where man lives not 
— what is it but eternity ? And in the church, we might 
suppose, are garnered up throughout the week all thoughts 
and feelings that have reference to eternity, until the 
holy day comes round again to let them forth. Might 
not, then, its more appropriate site be in the outskirts of 
the town, with space for old trees to wave around it and 
throw their solemn shadows over a quiet green ? AVe will 
say more of this hereafter. 

But on the Sabbath I watch the earliest sunshine and 
fancy that a holier brightness marks the day when there 
shall be no buzz of voices on the Exchange nor traffic in 
the shops, nor crowd nor business anywhere but at church. 
Many have fancied so. For my own j^art, whether I see it 
scattered down among tangled woods, or beaming broad 
across the fields, or hemmed in between brick buildings, or 
tracing out the figure of the casement on my chamber floor, 
still I recognize the Sabbath sunshine. And ever let me 
recognize it ! Some illusions — and this among them — are 
the shadows of great truths. Doubts may flit around me 
or seem to close their evil wings and settle down, but so 


long as I imagine that the earth is hallowed and the light 
of heaven retains its sanctity on the Sabbath — while that 
blessed sunshine lives within me — never can my soul have 
lost the instinct of its faith. If it have gone astray, it will 
return again. 

I love to spend such pleasant Sabbaths from morning till 
night behind the curtain of my open window. Are they 
spent amiss ? Every spot so near the church as to be visit- 
ed by the circling shadow of the steeple should be deemed 
consecrated ground to-day. With stronger truth be it said 
that a devout heart may consecrate a den of thieves, as an 
evil one may convert a temple to the same. My heart, jDer- 
haps, has no such holy, nor, I would fain trust, such impi- 
ous, potency. It must suffice that, though my form be 
absent, my inner man goes constantly to church, while 
many whose bodily presence fills the accustomed seats have 
left their souls at home. But I am there even before my 
friend the sexton. At length he comes — a man of kindly 
but sombre aspect, in dark gray clothes, and hair of the 
same mixture. He comes and applies his key to the wide 
portal. Now my thoughts may go in among the dusty pews 
or ascend the pulpit without sacrilege, but soon come forth 
again to enjoy the music of the bell. How glad, yet sol- 
emn too ! All the steeples in town are talking together 
aloft in the sunny air ?jid rejoicing among themselves while 
their spires point heavenward. Meantime, here are the 
children assembling to the Sabbath-school, which is kept 
somewhere within the church. Often, while looking at the 
arched portal, I have been gladdened by the sight of a 
score of these little girls and boys in pink, blue, yellow and 
crimson frocks bursting suddenly forth into the sunshine 
like a swarm of gay butterflies that had been shut up in 
the solemn gloom. Or I might compare them to cherubs 
haunting that holy place. 

About a quarter of an hour before the second ringing of 
the bell individuals of the congregation begin to appear. 


The earliest is invariably an old woman in black whose bent 
frame and rounded shoulders are evidently laden with some 
heavy affliction v^hich she is eager to rest upon the altar. 
Would that the Sabbath came twice as often, for the sake 
of that sorrowful old soul ! There is an elderly man, also, 
who arrives in good season and leans against the corner of 
the tower, just within the line of its shadow, looking down- 
ward with a darksome brow. I sometimes fancy that the 
old woman is the happier of the two. After these, others 
drop in singly and by twos and threes, either disappearing 
through the doorway or taking their stand in its vicinity. 
At last, and always with an unexpected sensation, the bell 
turns in the steeple overhead and throws out an irregular 
clangor, jarring the tower to its foundation. As if there 
were magic in the sound, the sidewalks of the street, both 
up and down along, are immediately thronged with two 
long lines of people, all converging hitherward and stream- 
ing into the church. Perhaps the far-off roar of a coach 
draws nearer — a deeper thunder by its contrast with the sur- 
rounding stillness — until it sets down the wealthy worship- 
pers at the portal among their humblest brethren. Beyond 
that entrance — in theory, at least — there are no distinctions 
of earthly rank ; nor, indeed, by the goodly apparel which 
is flaunting in the sun would there seem to be such on the 
hither side. Those pretty girls ! Why will they disturb 
my pious meditations? Of all days in the week, they 
should strive to look least fascinating on the Sabbath, in- 
stead of heightening their mortal loveliness, as if to rival 
the blessed angels and keep our thoughts from heaven. 
Were I the minister himself, I must needs look. One girl 
is white muslin from the waist upward and black silk down- 
ward to her slippers ; a second blushes from top-knot to 
shoe-tie, one universal scarlet ; another shines of a pervad- 
ing yellow, as if she had made a garment of the sunshine. 
The greater part, however, have adopted a milder cheerful- 
ness of hue. Their veils, especially when the wind raises 


them, give a lightness to the general effect and make them 
appear like airy phantoms as they flit up the steps and 
vanish into the sombre doorway. Nearly all — though it 
is very strange that I should know it — wear w^iite stockings, 
white as snow, and neat slippers laced crosswise with black 
ribbon pretty high above the ankles. A white stocking is 
infinitely more effective than a black one. 

Here comes the clergyman, slow and solemn, in severe 
simplicity, needing no black silk gown to denote his office. 
His aspect claims my reverence, but cannot win my love. 
Were I to picture Saint Peter keeping fast the gate of 
Heaven and frowning, more stern than pitiful, on the 
wretched applicants, that face should be my study. By 
middle age, or sooner, the creed has generally wrought 
upon the heart or been attempered by it. As the minister 
passes into the church the bell holds its iron tongue and all 
the low murmur of the congregation dies away. The gray 
sexton looks up and down the street and then at my window- 
curtain, where through the small peephole I half fancy that 
he has caught my eye. Now every loiterer has gone in 
and the street lies asleep in the quiet sun, while a feeling 
of loneliness comes over me, and brings also an uneasy 
sense of neglected privileges and duties. Oh, I ought to 
have gone to church ! The bustle of the rising congrega- 
tion reaches my ears. They are standing up to pray. 
Could I bring my heart into unison with those who are 
praying in yonder church and lift it heavenward with a 
fervor of supplication, but no distinct request, would not 
that be the safest kind of prayer? — " Lord, look down upon 
me in mercy !" With that sentiment gushing from my 
soul, might I not leave all the rest to him? 

Hark ! the hymn ! This, at least, is a portion of the 
service which I can enjoy better than if I sat within the 
walls, where the full choir and the massive melody of the 
organ would fall with a weight upon me. At this distance 
it thrills through my frame and plays upon my heart-strings 


with a pleasure both of the sense and spirit. Heaven be 
praised ! I know nothing of music as a science, and the 
most elaborate harmonies, if they please me, please as 
simply as a nurse's lullaby. The strain has ceased, but 
prolongs itself in my mind with fanciful echoes till I start 
from my reverie and find that the sermon has commenced. 
It is my misfortune seldom to fructify in a regular way by 
any but printed sermons. The first strong idea which the 
preacher utters gives birth to a train of thought and leads 
me onward step by step quite out of hearing of the good 
man's voice unless he be indeed a son of thunder. At my 
open window, catching now and then a sentence of the 
" parson's saw," I am as well situated as at the foot of the 
pulpit stairs. The broken and scattered fragments of this 
one discourse will be the texts of many sermons preached 
by those colleague pastors — colleagues, but often disputants 
— my Mind and Heart. The former pretends to be a 
scholar and perplexes me with doctrinal points ; the latter 
takes me on the score of feeling ; and both, like several 
other preachers, spend their strength to very little purpose. 
I, their sole auditor, cannot always understand them. 

Suppose that a few hours have passed, and behold me 
still behind my curtain just before the close of the after- 
noon service. The hour-hand on the dial has passed beyond 
four o'clock. The declining sun is hidden behind the steeple 
and throws its shadow straight across the street ; so that my 
chamber is darkened as with a cloud. Around the church 
door all is solitude, and an impenetrable obscurity beyond 
the threshold. A commotion is heard. The seats are 
slammed down and the pew doors thrown back ; a multitude 
of feet are trampling along the unseen aisles, and the con- 
gregation bursts suddenly through the portal. Foremost 
scampers a rabble of boys, behind whom moves a dense 
and dark phalanx of grown men, and lastly a crowd of 
females with young children and a few scattered husbands. 
This instantaneous outbreak of life into loneliness is one of 


the pleasantest scenes of the day. Some of the good people 
are rubbing their eyes, thereby intimating that they have 
been wrapped, as it were, in a sort of holy trance by the 
fervor of their devotion. There is a young man, a third- 
rate coxcomb, whose first care is always to flourish a white 
handkerchief and brush the seat of a tight pair of black 
silk pantaloons which shine as if varnished. They must 
have been made of the stuflT called "everlasting," or 
perhaps of the same piece as Christian's garments in the 
Pilgrim^s Progress, for he put them on two summers ago 
and has not yet worn the gloss oflT. I have taken a great 
liking to those black silk pantaloons. But now, with nods 
and greetings among friends, each matron takes her hus- 
band's arm and paces gravely homeward, while the girls 
also flutter away after arranging sunset walks with their 
favored badielors. The Sabbath eve is the eve of love. 
At length the whole congregation is dispersed. No ; here, 
with faces as glossy as black satin, come two sable ladies 
and a sable gentleman, and close in their rear the minister, 
who softens his severe visage and bestows a kind word on 
each. Poor souls ! To them the most captivating picture 
of bliss in heaven is " There we shall be white !" 

All is solitude again. But hark ! A broken warbling 
of voices, and now, attuning its grandeur to their sweetness, 
a stately peal of the organ. Who are the choristers ? Let 
me dream that the angels who came down from heaven 
this blessed morn to blend themselves with the worship of 
the truly good are playing and singing their farewell to the 
earth. On the wings of that rich melody they were borne 

This, gentle reader, is merely a flight of poetry. A few 
of the singing-men and singing- women had lingered behind 
their fellows and raised their voices fitfully and blew a 
careless note upon the organ. Yet it lifted my soul higher 
than all their former strains. They are gone — the sons and 
daughters of Music — and the gray sexton is just closing 


the portal. For six days more there will be no face of 
man in the pews and aisles and galleries, nor a voice in the 
pulpit, nor music in the choir. Was it worth while to rear 
this massive edifice to be a desert in the heart of the town 
and populous only for a few hours of each seventh day ? 
Oh, but the church is a symbol of religion. May its site, 
which was consecrated on the day when the fii-st tree was 
felled, be kept holy for ever, a spot of solitude and peace 
amid the trouble and vanity of our week-day world ! There 
is a moral, and a religion too, even in the silent walls. 
And may the steeple still point heavenward and be 
decked with the hallowed sunshine of the Sabbath morn ! 


There is a certain church in the city of New York 
which I have always regarded with peculiar interest on 
account of a marriage there solemnized under very singular 
circumstances in my grandmother's girlhood. That vener- 
able lady chanced to be a spectator of the scene, and ever 
after made it her favorite narrative. Whether the edifice 
now standing on the same site be the identical one to which 
she referred I am not antiquarian enough to know, nor 
would it be worth while to correct myself, perhaps, of an 
agreeable error by reading the date of its erection on the 
tablet over the door. It is a stately church surrounded by 
an enclosure of the loveliest green, within which appear 
urns, pillars, obelisks, and other forms of monumental 
marble, the tributes of private afiection or more splendid 
memorials of historic dust. "With such a place, though 
the tumult of the city rolls beneath its tower, one would be 
willing to connect some legendary interest. 

The marriage might be considered as the result of an 
early engagement, though there had been two intermediate 
weddings on the lady's part and forty years of celibacy on 
that of the gentleman. At sixty-five ]\Ir. Ellenwood was a 
shy but not quite a secluded man ; selfish, like all men who 
brood over their own hearts, yet manifesting on rare occa- 
sions a vein of generous sentiment ; a scholar throughout 
life, though always an indolent one, because his studies had 
no definite object either of public advantage or personal 
ambition ; a gentleman, high-bred and fastidiously delicate, 



yet sometimes requiring a considerable relaxation in his 
behalf of the common rules of society. In truth, there 
were so many anomalies in his character, and, though 
shrinking with diseased sensibility from public notice, it 
had been his fatality so often to become the topic of the day 
by some wild eccentricity of conduct, that people searched 
his lineage for a hereditary taint of insanity. But there 
was no need of this. His caprices had their origin in a 
mind that lacked the support of an engrossing purpose, and 
in feelings that preyed upon themselves for want of other 
food. If he were mad, it was the consequence, and not the 
cause, of an aimless and abortive life. 

The widow was as complete a contrast to her third 
bridegroom in everything but age as can well be conceived. 
Compelled to relinquish her first engagement, she had been 
united to a man of twice her own years, to whom she 
became an exemplary wife, and by whose death she was 
left in possession of a splendid fortune. A Southern gen- 
tleman considerably younger than herself succeeded to her 
hand and carried her to Charleston, where after many un- 
comfortable years she found herself again a w^idow. It 
would have been singular if any uncommon delicacy of feel- 
ing had survived through such a life as Mrs. Dabney's ; it 
could not but be crushed and killed by her early disappoint- 
ment, the cold duty of her first marriage, the dislocation of 
the heart's principles consequent on a second union, and 
the unkindness of her Southern husband, which had inevi- 
tably driven her to connect the idea of his death with that 
of her comfort. To be brief, she was that wisest but un- 
loveliest variety of woman, a philosopher, bearing troubles 
of the heart with equanimity, dispensing with all that 
should have been her happiness and making the best of what 
remained. Sage in most matters, the widow was perhaps 
the more amiable for the one frailty that made her ridicu- 
lous. Being childless, she could not remain beautiful by 
proxy in the person of a daughter ; she therefore refused to 


grow old and ugly on any consideration ; she struggled with 
Time, and held fast her roses in spite of him, till the vener- 
able thief appeared to have relinquished the spoil as not 
worth the trouble of acquiring it. 

The approaching marriage of this woman of the world 
with such an unworldly man as Mr. Ellenwood was an- 
nounced soon after Mrs. Dabney's return to her native city. 
Superficial observers, and deeper ones, seemed to concur in 
supposing that the lady must have borne no inactive part 
in arranging the affair ; there were considerations of ex- 
pediency which she would be far more likely to appreciate 
than Mr. Ellenwood, and there was just the specious phan- 
tom of sentiment and romance in this late union of two 
early lovers which sometimes makes a fool of a woman who 
has lost her true feelings among the accidents of life. All 
the wonder was how the gentleman, with his lack of worldly 
wisdom and agonizing consciousness of ridicule, could have 
been induced to take a measure at once so prudent and so 
laughable. But while people talked the wedding-day 
arrived. The ceremony was to be solemnized according 
to the Episcopalian forms and in open church, with a degree 
of publicity that attracted many spectators, who occupied 
the front seats of the galleries and the pews near the altar 
and along the broad aisle. It had been arranged, or possi- 
bly it was the custom of the day, that the parties should 
proceed separately to church. By some accident the bride- 
groom was a little less punctual than the widow and her bridal 
attendants, with whose arrival, after this tedious but neces- 
sary preface, the action of our tale may be said to com- 

The clumsy wheels of several old-fashioned coaches were 
heard, and the gentlemen and ladies composing the bridal- 
party came through the church door with the sudden and 
gladsome effect of a burst of sunshine. The whole group, 
except the principal figure, was made up of youth and 
gayety. As they streamed up the broad aisle, while the 


pews and pillars seemed to brighten on either side, their 
steps were as buoyant as if they mistook the church for a 
ball-room and were ready to dance hand in hand to the 
altar. So brilliant was the spectacle that few took notice 
of a singular phenomenon that had marked its entrance. 
At the moment when the bride's foot touched the threshold 
the bell swung heavily in the tower above her and sent forth 
its deepest knell. The vibrations died away, and returned 
with prolonged solemnity as she entered the body of the 

" Good heavens ! "What an omen !" whispered a young 
lady to her lover. 

" On my honor," replied the gentleman, " I believe the 
bell has the orood taste to toll of its own accord. What has 
she to do with weddings? If you, dearest Julia, were 
aj^proaching the altar, the bell would ring out its merri- 
est peal. It has only a funeral-knell for her." 

The bride and most of her company had been too much 
occupied with the bustle of entrance to hear the first boding 
stroke of the bell — or, at least, to reflect on the singularity 
of such a welcome to the altar. They therefore continued 
to advance with undiminished gayety. The gorgeous dresses 
of the time — ^the crimson velvet coats, the gold-laced hats^ 
the hoop-petticoats, the silk, satin, brocade and embroidery, 
the buckles, canes and swords, all displayed to the best 
advantage on persons suited to such finery — made the group 
appear more like a bright-colored picture than anything 
real. But by what perversity of taste had the artist repre- 
sented his principal figure as so wrinkled and decayed, 
while yet he had decked her out in the brightest splen- 
dor of attire, as if the loveliest maiden had suddenly with- 
ered into age and become a moral to the beautiful around 
her ? On they went, hoWever, and had glittered along about 
a third of the aisle, when another stroke of the bell seemed 
to fill the church with a visible gloom, dimming and ob- 


scuring tlie briglit pageant till it shone forth again as 
from a mist. 

This time the party wavered, stopped and huddled closer 
together, while a slight scream was heard from some of the 
ladies and a confused whispering among the gentlemen. 
Thus tossing to and fro, they might have been fancifully 
compared to a splendid bunch of flowers suddenly shaken 
by a puff of wind which threatened to scatter the leaves of 
an old brown, withered rose on the same stalk with two 
dewy buds, such being the emblem of the widow between 
her fair young bridemaids. But her heroism was admira- 
ble. She had started with an irrepressible shudder, as if the 
stroke of the bell had fallen directly on her heart ; then, 
recovering herself, while her attendants were yet in dismay, 
she took the lead and paced calmly up the aisle. The bell 
continued to swing, strike and vibrate with the same 
doleful regularity as when a corpse is on its way to the 

"My young friends here have their nerves a little 
shaken," said the widow, with a smile, to the clergyman 
at the altar. " But so many weddings have been ushered 
in with the merriest peal of the bells, and yet turned out un- 
happily, that I shall hope for better fortune under such 
different auspices.'* 

"Madam," answered the rector, in great perplexity, "this 
strange occurrence brings to my mind a marriage-sermon 
of the famous Bishop Taylor wherein he mingles so many 
thoughts of mortality and future woe that, to speak some- 
what after his own rich style, he seems to hang the bridal- 
chamber in black and cut the wedding-garment out of a 
coffin-pall. And it has been the custom of divers nations 
to infuse something of sadness into their marriage ceremo- 
nies, so to keep death in mind while contracting that 
engagement which is life's chiefest business. Thus we may 
draw a sad but profitable moral from this funeral-knell.'* 

But, though the clergyman might have given his moral 


even a keener point, he did not fail to despatch an attend- 
ant to inquire into the mystery and stop those sounds so 
dismally appropriate to such a marriage. A brief space 
elapsed, during which the silence was broken only by whis- 
pers and a few suppressed titterings among the wedding- 
party and the spectators, who after the first shock were 
disposed to draw an ill-natured merriment from the affair. 
The young have less charity for aged follies than the old 
for those of youth. The widow's glance was observed to 
wander for an instant toward a window of the church, as 
if searching for the time-worn marble that she had dedi- 
cated to her first husband ; then her eyelids dropped over 
their faded orbs and her thoughts were drawn irresistibly to 
another grave. Two buried men with a voice at her ear 
and a cry afar off" were calling her to lie down beside them. 
Perhaps, with momentary truth of feeling, she thought how 
much happier had been her fate if, after years of bliss, the 
bell were now tolling for her funeral and she were followed 
to the grave by the old affection of her earliest lover, long 
her husband. But why had she returned to him when their 
cold hearts shrank from each other's embrace ? 

Still the death-bell tolled so mournfully that the sunshine 
seemed to fade in the air. A whisper, communicated from 
those who stood nearest the w^indows, now spread through 
the church : a hearse with a train of several coaches was 
creeping along the street, conveying some dead man to the 
churchyard, while the bride awaited a living one at the 
altar. Immediately after, the footsteps of the bridegroom 
and his friends were heard at the door. The widow looked 
down the aisle and clenched the arm of one of her bride- 
maids in her bony hand with such unconscious violence that 
the fair girl trembled. 

" You frighten me, my dear madam," cried she. " For 
heaven's sake, what is the matter ?" 

"Nothing, my dear — nothing," said the widow; then, 
whispering close to her ear, "There is a foolish fancy 


tliat I cannot get rid of. I am expecting my bridegroom to 
come into the churcli with my two first husbands for 

" Look ! look !" screamed the bridemaid. " What is here? 
The funeral !" 

As she spoke a dark procession paced into the church. 
First came an old man and woman, like chief mourners at 
a funeral, attired from head to foot, in the deepest black, all 
but their pale features and hoary hair, he leaning on a 
staff and supporting her decrepit form with his nerveless 
arm. Behind appeared another and another pair, as aged, 
as black and mournful as the first. As they drew near the 
widow recognized in every face some trait of former friends 
long forgotten, but now returning as if from their old graves 
to warn her to prepare a shroud, or, with purpose almost as 
unwelcome, to exhibit their wrinkles and infirmity and claim 
her as their companion by the tokens of her own decay. 
Many a merry night had she danced with them in youth, 
and now in joyless age she felt that some withered partner 
should request her hand and all unite in a dance of death 
to the music of the funeral-bell. 

While these aged mourners were passing up the aisle it 
was observed that from pew to pew the spectators shuddered 
with irrepressible awe as some object hitherto concealed by 
the intervening figures came full in sight. Many turned 
away their faces ; others kept a fixed and rigid stare, and a 
young girl giggled hysterically and fainted with the laugh- 
ter on her lips. When the spectral procession approached 
the altar, each couple separated and slowly diverged, till in 
the centre appeared a form that had been worthily ushered in 
with all this gloomy pomp, the death-knell and the funeral. 
It was the bridegroom in his shroud. 

No garb but that of the grave could have befitted such a 
death-like aspect. The eyes, indeed, had the wild gleam of 
a sepulchral lamp ; all else was fixed in the stern calmness 
which old men wear in the cofiin. The corpse stood motion- 


less, but addressed the widow in accents that seemed to melt 
into the clang of the bell, which fell heavily on the air while 
he spoke. 

" Come, my bride !" said those pale lips. " The hearse is 
ready ; the sexton stands waiting for us at the door of the 
tomb. Let us be married, and then to our coffins !" 

How shall the widow's horror be represented ? It gave 
her the ghastliness of a dead man's bride. Her youthful 
friends stood apart, shuddering at the mourners, the 
shrouded bridegroom and herself; the whole scene ex- 
pressed by the strongest imagery the vain struggle of 
the gilded vanities of this world when opposed to age, in- 
firmity, sorrow and death. 

The awestruck silence was first broken by the clergy- 

" Mr. Ellenwood," said he, soothingly, yet with somewhat 
of authority, " you are not well. Your mind has been agi- 
tated by the unusual circumstances in which you are placed. 
The ceremony must be deferred. As an old friend, let me 
entreat you to return home." 

" Home — yes ; but not without my bride," answered he, 
in the same hollow accents. " You deem this mockery — 
perhaps madness. Had I bedizened my aged and broken 
frame T\dth scarlet and embroidery, had I forced my 
withered lips to smile at my dead heart, that might have 
been mockery or madness ; but now let young and old de- 
clare which of us has come hither without a wedding-gar- 
ment — the bridegroom or the bride." 

He stepped forward at a ghostly pace and stood beside 
the widow, contrasting the awful simplicity of his shroud 
with the glare and glitter in which she had arrayed herself 
for this unhappy scene. None that beheld them could deny 
the terrible strength of the moral which his disordered 
intellect had contrived to draw. 

" Cruel ! cruel !" groaned the heartstricken bride. 

" Cruel ?" repeated he ; then, losing his deathlike compos- 


ure in a wild bitterness, " Heaven judge which of us has 
been cruel to the other ! In youth you deprived me of my 
happiness, my hopes, my aims ; you took away all the sub- 
stance of my life and made it a dream without reality 
enough even to grieve at — with only a pervading gloom, 
through which I walked w^earily and cared not whither. 
But after forty years, when I have built my tomb and 
would not give up the thought of resting there — no, not for 
such a life as we once pictured — you call me to the altar. 
At your summons I am here. But other husbands have 
enjoyed your youth, your beauty, your warmth of heart and 
all that could be termed your life. What is there for me 
but your decay and death ? And therefore I have bidden 
these funeral-friends, and bespoken the sexton's deepest 
knell, and am come in my shroud to wed you as with a 
burial-service, that w^e may join our hands at the door of 
the sepulchre and enter it together." 

It was not frenzy, it was not merely the drunkenness 
of strong emotion in a heart unused to it, that now 
wrought upon the bride. The stern lesson of the day had 
done its work ; her w^orldliness was gone. She seized the 
bridegroom's hand. 

" Yes !" cried she ; " let us wed even at the door of the 
sepulchre. My life is gone in vanity and emptiness, but at 
its close there is one true feeling. It has made me what I 
was in youth : it makes me worthy of you. Time is no 
more for both of us. Let us wed for eternity." 

With a long and deep regard the bridegroom looked into 
her eyes, while a tear was gathering in his own. Hov/ 
strange that gush of liuman feeling from the frozen bosom 
of a corpse! He wiped away the tear, even with his 

" Beloved of my youth," said he, " I have been wild. 
The despair of my whole lifetime had returned at once and 
maddened me. Forgive and be forgiven. Yes ; it is even- 
ing with us now, and we have realized none of our morning 


dreams of happiness. But let us join our hands before the 
altar as lovers whom adverse circumstances have separated 
through life, yet who meet again as they are leaving it and 
find their earthly affection changed into sordething holy as 
religion. And what is time to the married of eternity ?" 

Amid the tears of many and a swell of exalted sentiment 
in those who felt aright was solemnized the union of two 
immortal souls. The train of withered mourners, the hoary 
bridegroom in his shroud, the pale features of the aged 
bride and the death-bell tolling through the whole till its 
deep voice overpowered the marriage-words, — all marked 
the funeral of earthly hopes. But as the ceremony pro- 
ceeded, the organ, as if stirred by the sympathies of this 
impressive scene, poured forth an anthem, first mingling 
with the dismal knell, then rising to a loftier strain, till the 
soul looked down upon its woe. And when the awful rite 
was finished and with cold hand in cold hand the married 
of eternity withdrew, the organ's peal of solemn triumph 
drowned the wedding-knelL 



The sexton stood in the porch of Milford meeting-house 
pulling lustily at the bell-rope. The old people of the 
village came stooping along the street. Children with 
bright faces tripped merrily beside their parents or mimick- 
ed a graver gait in the conscious dignity of their Sunday 
clothes. Spruce bachelors looked sidelong at the pretty 
maidens, and fancied that the Sabbath sunshine made them 
prettier than on week-days. When the throng had mostly 
streamed into the porch, the sexton began to toll the bell, 
keeping his eye on the Reverend Mr. Hooper's door. The 
first glimpse of the clergyman's figure was the signal for 
the bell to cease its summons. 

" But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face ?" 
cried the sexton, in astonishment. 

All within hearing im.mediately turned about and beheld 
the semblance of Mr. Hooper pacing slowly his meditative 
way toward the meeting-house. With one accord thev 
started, expressing more wonder than if some strange min- 

^ Another clergyman in New England, Mr. Joseph Moody, of 
York, Maine, who died about eighty years since, made himself 
remarkable by the same eccentricity that is here related of the 
Eeverend Mr. Hooper, In his case, however, the symbol had a 
difierent import. In early life he had accidentally killed a beloved 
friend, and from that day till the hour of his own death he hid his 
face from men. 

3 33 


ister were coming to dust tlie cushions of Mr. Hooper's 

" Are you sure it is our parson ?" inquired Goodman Gray 
of the sexton. 

"Of a certainty it is good Mr. Hooper," replied the 
sexton. " He was co have exchanged pulpits with Parson 
Shute of Westbury, but Parson Shute sent to excuse him- 
self yesterday, being to preach a funeral sermon." 

The cause of so much amazement may appear sufficiently 
slight. Mr. Hooper, a gentlemanly person of about thirty, 
though still a bachelor, was dressed with due clerical neat- 
ness, as if a careful wife had starched his band and brushed 
the weekly dust from his Sunday's garb. There was but 
one thing remarkable in his appearance. Swathed about 
his forehead and hanging down over his face, so low as to 
be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a black veil. 
On a nearer view it seemed to consist of two folds of crape, 
which entirely concealed his features except the mouth and 
chin, but probably did not intercept his sight further than 
to give a darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things. 
"With this gloomy shade before him good Mr. Hooper 
walked onward at a slow and quiet pace, stooping somewhat 
and looking on the ground, as is customary with abstracted 
men, yet nodding kindly to those of his parishioners who 
still waited on the meeting-house steps. But so wonder- 
struck were they that his greeting hardly met Avith a return, 

" I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was 
> behind that piece of crape," said the sexton. 

" I don't like it," muttered an old woman as she hobbled 
into the meeting-house. " He has changed himself into 
something awful only by hiding his face." 

" Our parson has gone mad !" cried Goodman Gray, 
following him across the threshold. 

A rumor of some unaccountable phenomenon had pre- 
ceded Mr. Hooper into the meeting-house and set all the 
congregation astir. Few could refrain from twisting their 


heads toward the door; many stood upright and turned 
directly about ; while several little boys clambered upon the 
seats, and came down again with a terrible racket. There 
was a general bustle, a rustling of the women's gowns and 
shuffling of the men's feet, greatly at variance with that 
hushed repose which should attend the entrance of the 
minister. But Mr. Hooper appeared not to notice the per- 
turbation of his people. He entered with an almost noise- 
less step, bent his head mildly to the pews on each side and 
bowed as he passed his oldest parishioner, a white-haired 
great-grandsire, who occupied an arm-chair in the centre 
of the aisle. It was strange to observe how slowly this 
venerable man became conscious of something singular in 
the appearance of his pastor. He seemed not fully to par- 
take of the prevailing wonder till Mr. Hooper had ascended 
the stairs and showed himself in the pulpit, face to face 
with his congregation except for the black veil. That 
mysterious emblem was never once withdrawn. It shook 
with his measured breath as he gave out the psalm, it 
threw its obscurity between him and the holy page as he 
read the Scriptures, and while he prayed the veil lay heavily 
on his uplifted countenance. Did he seek to hide it from 
the dread Being whom he was addressing ? 

Such was the effect of this simple piece of crape that 
more than one woman of delicate nerves was forced to leave 
the meeting-house. Yet perhaps the pale-faced congrega- 
tion was almost as fearful a sight to the minister as his black 
veil to them. 

Mr. Hooper had the reputation of a good preacher, but 
not an energetic one : he strove to win his people heaven- 
ward by mild, persuasive influences rather than to drive 
them thither by the thunders of the word. The sermon 
which he now delivered was marked by the same character- 
istics of style and manner as the general series of his pulpit 
oratory, but there was something either in the sentiment of 
the discourse itself or in the imagination of the auditors 


"wliicli made it greatly the most powerful effort that they 
had ever heard from their pastor's lips. It was tinged 
rather more darkly than usual with the gentle gloom of 
Mr. Hooper's temperament. The subject had reference to 
secret sin and those sad mysteries which we hide from our 
nearest and dearest, and w'ould fain conceal from our own 
consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can 
detect them. A subtle power was breathed into his w^ords. 
Each member of the congregation, the most innocent girl 
and the man of hardened breast, felt as if the preacher had 
crept upon them behind his awful veil and discovered their 
hoarded iniquity of deed or thought. Many spread their 
clasped hands on their bosoms. There was nothing terrible 
in what Mr. Hooper said — at least, no violence ; and yet 
with every tremor of his melancholy voice the hearers 
quaked. An unsought pathos came hand in hand with 
awe. So sensible were the audience of some unwonted 
attribute in their minister that they longed for a breath of 
wind to blow aside the veil, almost believing that a stranger's 
visage would be discovered, though the form, gesture and 
voice were those of Mr. Hooper. 

At the close of the services the people hurried out v/ith 
indecorous confusion, eager to communicate their pent-up 
amazement, and conscious of lighter spirits the moment 
they lost sight of the black veil. Some gathered in little 
circles, huddled closely together, w^ith their mouths all 
whispering in the centre; some went homeward alone, 
wrapped in silent meditation ; some talked loudly and pro- 
faned the Sabbath-day with ostentatious laughter. A few 
shook their sagacious heads, intimating that they could 
penetrate the mystery, while one or two affirmed that there 
was no mystery at all, but only that Mr. Hooper's eyes 
were so weakened by the midnight lamp as to require a 

After a brief interval forth came good Mr. Hooper also, 
in the rear of his fiock. Turning his veiled face from one 


group to another, he paid due reverence to the hoary heads, 
saluted the middle-aged with kind dignity as their friend 
and spiritual guide, greeted the young with mingled au- 
thority and love, and laid his hands on the little children's 
heads to bless them. Such was always his custom on the 
Sabbath-day. Strange and bewildered looks repaid him 
for his courtesy. None, as on former occasions, aspired to 
the honor of walking by their pastor's side. Old Squii-e 
Saunders — doubtless by an accidental lapse of memory — 
neglected to invite Mr. Hooper to his table, where the good 
clergyman had been wont to bless the food almost every 
Sunday since his settlement. He returned, therefore, to the 
parsonage, and at the moment of closing the door was ob- 
served to look back upon the people, all of whom had their 
eyes fixed upon the minister. A sad smiie gleamed faintly 
from beneath the black veil and flickered about his mouth, 
glimmering as he disappeared. 

" How strange," said a lady, " that a simple black veil, 
such as any woman might wear on her bonnet, should be- 
come such a terrible thing on Mr. Hooper's face !" 

" Something must surely be amiss with Mr. Hooper's in- 
tellects," observed her husband, the physician of the village. 
" But the strangest part of the aflTair is the effect of this 
vagary even on a sober-minded man like myself. The black 
veil, though it covers only our pastor's face, throws its in- 
fluence over his whole person and makes him ghost-like 
from head to foot. Do you not feel it so?" 

" Truly do I," replied the lady ; " and I would not be 
alone with him for the world. I wonder he is not afraid to 
be alone with himself." 

" Men sometimes are so," said her husband. 

The afternoon service was attended with similar cir- 
cumstances. At its conclusion the bell tolled for the funeral 
of a young lady. The relatives and friends were assembled 
in the house and the more distant acquaintances stood about 
the door, speaking of the good qualities of the deceased, 


when their talk was interrupted by the appearance of Mr. 
Hooper, still covered with his black veil. It was now an 
appropriate emblem. The clergyman stepped into the room 
where the corpse was laid, and bent over the coffin to take 
a last farewell of his deceased parishioner. As he stooped 
the veil hung straight down from his forehead, so that, if 
her eye-lids had not been closed for ever, the dead maiden 
might have seen his face. Could Mr. Hooper be fearful of 
her glance, that he so hastily caught back the black 
veil? A person who watclied the interview between 
the dead and living scrupled not to affirm that at the 
instant when the clergyman's features were disclosed the 
corpse had slightly shuddered, rustling the shroud and 
muslin cap, though the countenance retained the composure 
of death. A superstitious old woman was the only witness 
of this prodigy. 

From the coffin Mr. Hooper passed into the chamber of 
the mourners, and thence to the head of the staircase, to 
make the funeral prayer. It was a tender and heart- 
dissolving prayer, full of sorrow, yet so imbued with celes- 
tial hopes that the music of a heavenly harp swept by the 
fingers of the dead seemed faintly to be heard among the 
saddest accents of the minister. The people trembled, though 
they but darkly understood him, when he prayed that they 
and himself, and all of mortal race, might be ready, as he 
trusted this young maiden had been, for the dreadful hour 
that should snatch the veil from their faces. The bearers 
went heavily forth and the mourners followed, saddening 
all the street, with the dead before them and Mr. Hooper 
in his black veil behind. 

" Why do you look back ?" said one in the procession to 
his partner. 

"I had a fancy," replied she, " that the minister and the 
maiden's spirit were walking hand in hand." 

" And so had I at the same moment," said the other. 

That night the handsomest couple in Milford village were 


to be joined in wedlock. Though reckoned a melancholy 
man, Mr. Hooper had a placid cheerfulness for such occa- 
sions which often excited a sympathetic smile where livelier 
merriment would have been thrown away. There was no 
quality of his disposition which made him more beloved 
than this. The company at the wedding awaited his arrival 
with impatience, trusting that the strange awe which had 
gathered over him throughout the day would now be dis- 
pelled. But such was not the result. When Mr. Hooper 
came, the first thing that their eyes rested on was the same 
horrible black veil which had added deeper gloom to the 
funeral and could portend nothing but evil to the wedding. 
Such was its immediate effect on the guests that a cloud 
seemed to have rolled duskily from beneath the black crape 
and dimmed the light of the caudles. The bridal pair 
stood up before the minister, but the bride's cold fingers 
quivered in the tremulous hand of the bridegroom, and her 
death-like paleness caused a whisper that the maiden who 
had been buried a few hours before was come from her 
grave to be married. If ever another wedding were so 
dismal, it was that famous one where they tolled the wed- 

After performing the ceremony Mr. Hooper raised a glass 
of wine to his lips, wishing happiness to the new-married 
couple in a strain of mild pleasantry that ought to have 
brightened the features of the guests like a cheerful gleam 
from the hearth. At that instant, catching a glimpse of his 
figure in the looking-glass, the black veil involved his own 
spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others. 
His frame shuddered, his lips grew white, he spilt the un- 
tasted wine upon the carpet and rushed forth into 
the darkness, for the Earth too had on her black veil. 

The next day the whole village of Milford talked of little 
else than Parson Hooper's black veil. That, and the 
mystery concealed behind it, supplied a topic for discus- 
sion between acquaintances meeting in the street and good 


women gossipping at their open windows. It was the first 
item of news that the tavernkeeper told to his guests. The 
children babbled of it on their way to school. One imita- 
tive little imp covered his face with an old black handker- 
chief, thereby so affrighting his playmates that the panic 
seized himself and he wellnigh lost his wits by his own 

It was remarkable that, of all the busybodies and imper- 
tinent people in the parish, not one ventured to put the 
plain question to Mr. Hooper wherefore he did this thing. 
Hitherto, whenever there appeared the slightest call for 
such interference, he had never lacked advisers nor shown 
himself averse to be guided by their judgment. If he 
erred at all, it was by so painful a degree of self-distrust 
that even the mildest censure would lead him to consider 
an indifferent action as a crime. Yet, though so well ac- 
quainted with this amiable weakness, no individual among 
his parishioners chose to make the black veil a subject of 
friendly remonstrance. There was a feeling of dread, 
neither plainly confessed nor carefully concealed, which 
caused each to shift the responsibility upon another, till at 
length it was found expedient to send a deputation of the 
church, in order to deal with Mr. Hooper about the mys^ 
tery before it should grow into a scandal. Never did an 
embassy so ill discharge its duties. The minister received 
them with friendly courtesy, but became silent after they 
were seated, leaving to his visitors the whole burden of in- 
troducing their important business. The topic, it might be 
supposed, was obvious enough. There was the black veil 
swathed round Mr. Hooper's forehead and concealing every 
feature above his placid mouth, on which, at times, they 
could perceive the glimmering of a melancholy smile. But 
that piece of crape, to their imagination, seemed to hang 
down before his heart, the symbol of a fearful secret be- 
tween him and them. Were the veil but cast aside, they 
might speak freely of it, but not till then. Thus they sat a 


considerable time, speechless, confused and shrinking un- 
easily from Mr. Hoo23er's eye, which they felt to be fixed upon 
them with an invisible glance. Finally, the deputies re- 
turned abashed to their constituents, pronouncing the matter 
too weighty to be handled except by a council of the 
churches, if, indeed, it might not require a General 

But there was one person in the village unappalled by 
the awe with which the black veil had impressed all besides 
herself. When the deputies returned without an explana- 
tion, or even venturing to demand one, she with the calm 
energy of her character determined to chase away the 
strange cloud that appeared to be settling round Mr. Hooper 
every moment more darkly than before. As his plighted 
wife it should be her privilege to know what the black 
veil concealed. At the minister's first visit, therefore, she 
entered uj)on the subject with a direct simplicity which 
made the task easier both for him and her. After he had 
seated himself she fixed her eyes steadfastly upon the veil, 
but could discern nothing of the dreadful gloom that had 
so overawed the multitude ; it was but a double fold of crape 
hanging down from his forehead to his mouth and slightly 
stirring with his breath. 

" No," said she, aloud, and smiling, " there is nothing ter- 
rible in this piece of crape, except that it hides a face which 
I am always glad to look upon. Come, good sir ; let the 
sun shine from behind the cloud. First lay aside your 
black veil, then tell me why you put it on." 

Mr. Hooper's smile glimmered faintly. 

" There is an hour to come," said he, " when all of us 
shall cast aside our veils. Take it not amiss, beloved 
friend, if I wear this piece of crape till then." 

" Your words are a mystery too," returned the young lady. 
" Take away the veil from them, at least." 

" Elizabeth, I will," said he, " so far as my vow may 
suffer me. Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol. 


and I am bound to wear it ever, both in light and darkness, 
in solitude and before the gaze of multitudes, and as with 
strangers, so with my familiar friends. No mortal eye 
will see it withdrawn. This dismal shade must separate 
me from the world ; even you, Elizabeth, can never come 
behind it." 

" What grievous affliction hath befallen you," she earn- 
estly inquired, "that you should thus darken your eyes 
for ever?" 

" If it be a sign of mourning," replied Mr. Hooper, " I, 
jierhaps, like most other mortals, have sorrows dark enough 
to be typified by a black veil." 

"But what if the wor]d will not believe that it is the 
type of an innocent sorrow ?" urged Elizabeth. " Beloved 
and respected as you are, there may be whispers that you 
hide your face under the consciousness of secret sin. For 
the sake of your holy office do away this scandal." 

The color rose into her cheeks as she intimated the nature 
of the rumors that were already abroad in the village. 
But Mr. Hooper's mildness did not forsake him. He even 
smiled again — that same sad smile which always appeared 
like a faint glimmering of light proceeding from the obscur- 
ity beneath the veil. 

" If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough," 
he merely replied; "and if I cover it for secret sin, 
what mortal might not do the same?" And with this 
gentle but unconquerable obstinacy did he resist all her 

At length Elizabeth sat silent. For a few moments she 
appeared lost in thought, considering, probably, what new 
methods might be tried to withdraw her lover from so dark 
a fantasy, which, if it had no other meaning, was perhaps a 
symptom of mental disease. Though of a firmer character 
than his own, the tears rolled down her cheeks. But in an 
instant, as it were, a new feeling took the place of sorrow : 
her eyes were fixed insensibly on the black veil, when like 


a sudden twilight in the air its terrors fell around her. She 
arose and stood trembling before him. 

" And do you feel it, then, at last ?" said he, mournfully. 

She made no reply, but covered her eyes with her hand 
and turned to leave the room. He rushed forward and 
caught her arm. 

" Have patience with me, Elizabeth !" cried he, passion- 
ately. " Do not desert me though this veil must be between 
us here on earth. Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no 
veil over my face, no darkness between our souls. It is but 
a mortal veil ; it is not for eternity. Oh, you know not 
how lonely I am, and how frightened to be alone behind 
my black veil ! Do not leave me in this miserable obscurity 
for ever." 

" Lift the veil but once and look me in the face," said 

" Never ! It cannot be !" replied Mr. Hooper. 

" Then farewell !" said Elizabeth. 

She withdrew her arm from his grasp and slowly de- 
parted, pausing at the door to give one long, shuddering 
gaze that seemed almost to penetrate the mystery of the black 
veil. But even amid his grief Mr. Hooper smiled to think 
that only a material emblem had separated him from hap- 
piness, though the horrors which it shadowed forth must 
be drawn darkly between the fondest of lovers. 

From that time no attempts were made to remove Mr. 
Hooper's black veil or by a direct appeal to discover the 
secret which it was supposed to hide. By persons who 
claimed a superiority to popular prejudice it was reckoned 
merely an eccentric whim, such as often mingles with the 
sober actions of men otherwise rational and tinges them all 
with its own semblance of insanity. But with the multi- 
tude good Mr. Hooper was irreparably a bugbear. He could 
not walk the street with any peace of mind, so conscious 
was he that the gentle and timid would turn aside to avoid 
him, and that others would make it a point of hardihood 


to throw themselves in his way. The impertinence of the 
latter class compelled him to give up his customary walk at 
sunset to the burial-ground ; for when he leaned pensively 
over the gate, there would always be faces behind the 
gravestones peeping at his black veil. A fable went the 
rounds that the stare of the dead people drove him thence. 
It grieved him to the very depth of his kind heart to ob- 
serve how the children fled from his approach, breaking up 
their merriest sports while his melancholy figure was yet 
afar off. Their instinctive dread caused him to feel more 
strongly than aught else that a preternatural horror was 
interwoven with the threads of the black crape. In truth, 
his own antipathy to the veil was known to be so great that 
he never willingly passed before a mirror nor stooped to 
drink at a still fountain lest in its peaceful bosom he should 
be afirighted by himself. This was what gave plausibility 
to the whispers that Mr. Hooper's conscience tortured him 
for some great crime too horrible to be entirely concealed 
or otherwise than so obscurely intimated. Thus from be- 
neath the black veil there rolled a cloud into the sunshine, 
an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, which enveloped the poor 
minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him. 
It was said that ghost and fiend consorted with him there. 
With self-shudderings and outward terrors he walked con- 
tinually in its shadow, groping darkly within his own soul 
or gazing through a medium that saddened the whole world. 
Even the lawless wind, it was believed, respected his dread- 
ful secret and never blew aside the veil. But still good Mr. 
Hooper sadly smiled at the pale visages of the worldly 
throng as he passed by. 

Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one 
desirable efiect of making its wearer a very efiicient clergy- 
man. By the aid of his mysterious emblem — for there v»'as 
no other apparent cause — he became a man of awful power 
over souls that were in agony for sin. His converts always 
regarded him with a dread peculiar to themselves, afiirming. 


though but figuratively, that before he brought them to 
celestial light they had been with him behind the black veil. 
Its gloom, indeed, enabled him to sympathize with all dark 
affections. Dying sinners cried aloud for Mr. Hooper and 
would not yield their breath till he appeared, though ever, 
as he stooped to whisper consolation, they shuddered at the 
veiled face so near their own. Such w^ere the terrors of the 
black veil even when Death had bared his visage. Strangers 
came long distances to attend service at his church with the 
mere idle purpose of gazing at his figure because it was for- 
bidden them to behold his face. But many were made to 
quake ere they departed. Once, during Governor Belcher's 
administration, Mr. Hooper was appointed to preach the 
election sermon. Covered with his black veil, he stood be- 
fore the chief magistrate, the council and the representa- 
tives, and wrought so deep an impression that the legisla- 
tive measures of that year were characterized by all the 
gloom and piety of our earliest ancestral sway. 

In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproach- 
able in outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; 
kind and loving, though unloved and dimly feared ; a man 
apart from men, shunned in their health and joy, but ever 
summoned to their aid in mortal anguish. As years wore 
on, shedding their snows above his sable veil, he acquired a 
name throughout the New England churches, and they 
called him Father Hooper. Nearly all his parishioners who 
were of mature ao-e w^hen he was settled had been borne 
away by many a funeral : he had one congregation in the 
church and a more crowded one in the churchyard ; and, 
having wrought so late into the evening and done his 
work so well, it was now good Father Hooper's turn to 

Several persons were visible by the shaded candlelight in 
the death-chamber of the old clergyman. Natural connec- 
tions he had none. But there was the decorously grave 
though unmoved physician, seeking only to mitigate the 


last pangs of the patient whom he could not save. There 
were the deacons and other eminently pious members of his 
church. There, also, was the Reverend Mr. Clark of AVest- 
bury, a young and zealous divine who had ridden in haste 
to pray by the bedside of the expiring minister. There 
was the nurse — no hired handmaiden of Death, but one 
whose calm affection had endured thus long in secrecy, in 
solitude, amid the chill of age, and would not perish even 
at the dying-hour. Who but Elizabeth ! And there lay 
the hoary head of good Father Hooper upon the death- 
pillow Avith the black veil still swathed about his brow and 
reaching down over his face, so that each more difficult 
gasp of his faint breath caused it to stir. All through life 
that piece of crape had hung between him and the world ; 
it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and wom- 
an's love and kept him in that saddest of all prisons his 
own heart ; and still it lay upon his face, as if to deepen 
the gloom of his darksome chamber and shade him from the 
sunshine of eternity. 

For some time previous his mind had been confused, 
wavering doubtfully between the past and the present, and 
hovering forward, as it were, at intervals, into the indistinct- 
ness of the world to come. There had been feverish turns 
which tossed him from side to side and wore away what little 
strength he had. But in his most convulsive struggles and 
in the wildest vagaries of his intellect, when no other 
thought retained its sober influence, he still showed an 
awful solicitude lest the black veil should slip aside. Even 
if his bewildered soul could have forgotten, there was a 
faithful woman at his pillow who with averted eyes would 
have covered that aged face which she had last beheld in 
the comeliness of manhood. 

At length the death-stricken old man lay quietly in the 
torpor of mental and bodily exhaustion, with an imper- 
ceptible pulse and breath that grew fainter and fainter ex- 


cept when a long, deep and irregular inspiration seemed to 
jirelude the flight of his spirit. 

The minister of Westbury approached the bedside. 

" Venerable Father Hooper," said he, " the moment of 
your release is at hand. Are you ready for the lifting of 
the veil that shuts in time from eternity ?" 

Father Hooper at first replied merely by a feeble motion 
of his head ; then — apprehensive, perhaps, that his meaning 
might be doubtful — he exerted himself to speak. 

"Yea," said he, in faint accents; "my soul hath a patient 
weariness until that veil be lifted." 

" And is it fitting," resumed the Reverend Mr. Clark, 
" that a man so given to prayer, of such a blameless ex- 
ample, holy in deed and thought, so far as mortal judgment 
may pronounce, — is it fitting that a father in the Church, 
sliould leave a shadow on his memory that may seem to 
blacken a life so pure ? I pray you, my venerable brother, 
let not this thing be ! Suffer us to be gladdened by your 
triumphant aspect as you go to your reward. Before the 
veil of eternity be lifted let me cast aside this black veil 
from your face ;" and, thus speaking, the Reverend Mr. 
Clark bent forvN^ard to reveal the mystery of so many years. 

But, exerting a sudden energy that made all the behold- 
ers stand aghast, Father Hooper snatched both his hands 
from beneath the bedclothes and pressed them strongly on 
the black veil, resolute to struggle if the minister of West- 
bury would contend with a dying man. 

" Never !" cried the veiled clergyman. " On earth, 
never !" 

"Dark old man," exclaimed the affrighted minister, 
"with what horrible crime upon your soul are you now 
passing to the judgment?" 

Father Hooper's breath heaved ; it rattled in his throat ; 
but, with a mighty effort grasping forward with his hands, 
he caught hold of life and held it back till he should speak. 
He even raised himself in bed, and there he sat shivering 


with the arms of Death around him, while the black veil 
hung down, awful at that last moment in the gathered ter- 
rors of a lifetime. And yet the faint, sad smile so often there 
now seemed to glimmer from its obscurity and linger on 
Father Hooper's lips. 

" Why do you tremble at me alone ?" cried he, turning 
his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. " Trem- 
ble also at each other. Have men avoided me and women 
shown no pity and children screamed and fled only for my 
black veil? What but the mystery which it obscurely 
typifies has made this piece of crape so awful? AVhen the 
friend shows his inmost heart to his friend, the lover to his 
best-beloved ; when man does not vainly shrink from the 
eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of 
his sin, — then deem me a monster for the symbol beneath 
which I have lived and die. I look around me, and, lo ! on 
every visage a black veil !" 

While his auditors shrank from one another in mutual 
affright. Father Hooper fell back upon his pillow, a veiled 
corpse with a faint smile lingering on the lips. Still veiled, 
they laid him in his coffin, and a veiled corpse they bore 
him to the grave. The grass of many years has sprung up 
and withered on that grave, the burial-stone is moss-grown, 
and good Mr. Hooper's face is dust ; but awful is still the 
thought that it mouldered beneath the black veil 


There is an admirable foundation for a philosophic romance in 
the curious history of the early settlement of Mount Wollaston, or 
Merry Mount. In the slight sketch here attempted the facts recorded 
on the grave pages of our New England annalists have wrought 
themselves almost spontaneously into a sort of allegory. The 
masques, mummeries and festive customs described in the text are in 
accordance with the manners of the age. Authority on these points 
may be found in Strutt's Booh of English Sports and Pastimes. 

Beight were the days at Merry IMount when the May- 
pole was the banner-staff of that gay colony. " They who 
reared it, should their banner be triumphant, were to pour 
sunshine ever New England's rugged hills and scatter 
flower-seeds throughout the soil. Jollity and gloom were 
contending for an empire. Midsummer eve had come, 
bringing deep verdure to the forest, and roses in her lap of 
a more vivid hue than the tender buds of spring. But May, 
or her mirthful spirit, dwelt all the year round at Merry 
Mount, sporting with the summer months and revelling 
with autumn and basking in the glow of vrinter's fireside. 
Through a world of toil and care she flitted with a dream- 
like smile, and came hither to find a home among the light- 
some hearts of Merry Mount. 

Never had the Maypole been so gayly decked as at sun- 
set on Midsummer eve. This venerated emblem was a pine 
tree which had preserved the slender grace of youth, while 
it equalled the loftiest height of the old wood-monarchs. 
From its top streamed a silken banner colored like the rain- 
4 49 


bow. Down nearly to the ground the pole was dressed with 
birchen boughs, and others of the liveliest green, and some 
with silvery leaves fastened by ribbons that fluttered in fan- 
tastic knots of twenty different colors, but no sad ones. 
Garden-flowers and blossoms of the wilderness laughed 
gladly forth amid the verdure, so fresh and dewy that they 
must have grown by magic on that happy pine tree. Where 
this green and flowery splendor terminated the shaft of the 
Maypole was stained with the seven brilliant hues of the 
banner at its top. On the lowest green bough hung an 
abundant wreath of roses — some tliat had been gathered in 
the sunniest spots of the forest, and others, of still richer 
blush, which the colonists had reared from English seed, 
O people of the Golden Age, the chief of your husbandry 
was to raise flowers! 

But what was the wild throng that stood hand in hand 
about the Maypole ? It could not be that the fauns and 
nymphs, when driven from their classic groves and homes 
of ancient fable, had sought refuge, as all the persecuted 
did, in the fresh woods of the West. These were Gothic 
monsters, though perhaps of Grecian ancestry. On the 
shoulders of a comely youth uprose the head and branching 
antlers of a stag ; a second, human in all other points, had 
the grim visage of a wolf; a third, still with the trunk and 
limbs of a mortal man, showed the beard and horns of a 
venerable he-goat. There was the likeness of a bear erect, 
brute in all but his hind legs, which were adorned with pink 
silk stockings. And here, again, almost as wondrous, stood 
a real bear of the dark forest, lending each of his forepaw& 
to the grasp of a human hand and as ready for the dance 
as any in that circle. His inferior nature rose halfway to 
meet his companions as they stooped. Other faces wore 
the similitude of man or woman, but distorted or extrava- 
gant, with red noses pendulous before their mouths, which 
seemed of awful depth and stretched from ear to ear in an 
eternal fit of laughter. Here might be seen the salvage 


man — well known in heraldry — hairy as a baboon and 
girdled with green leaves. By his side — a nobler figure, 
but still a counterfeit — appeared an Indian hunter with 
feathery crest and wampum-belt. ]\Iany of this strange 
company wore foolscaps and had little bells appended to 
their garments, tinkling with a silvery sound responsive to 
the inaudible music of their gleesome spirits. Some youths 
and maidens were of soberer garb, yet well maintained their 
places in the irregular throng by the expression of wild 
revelry upon their features. 

Such were the colonists of Merry Mount as they stood in 
the broad smile of sunset round their venerated Maypole. 
Had a wanderer bewildered in the melancholy forest heard 
their mirth and stolen a half-affrighted glance, he might 
have fancied them the crew of Comus, some already trans- 
formed to brutes, some midway between man and beast, 
and the others rioting in the flow of tipsy jollity that fore- 
ran the change ; but a band of Puritans who watched the 
scene, invisible themselves, compared the masques to those 
devils and ruined souls with whom their superstition 
peopled the black wilderness. 

Within the ring of monsters appeared the two airiest 
forms that had ever trodden on any more solid footing than 
a purple-and-golden cloud. One was a youth in glistening 
apparel with a scarf of the rainbow pattern crosswise on his 
breast. His right hand held a gilded staff— the ensign of 
high dignity among the revellers — and his left grasped the 
slender Angel's of a fair maiden not less gayly decorated 
than himself. Bright roses glowed in contrast with the 
dark and glossy curls of each, and were scattered round 
their feet or had sprung up spontaneously there. Behind 
this lightsome couple, so close to the Maypole that its 
boughs shaded his jovial face, stood the figure of an English 
priest, canonically dressed, yet decked with flowers, in 
heathen fashion, and wearing a chaplet of the native vine- 
leaves. By the riot of his rolling eye and the pagan deco- 


rations of his holy garb, he seemed the wildest monster 
there, and the very Comus of the crew. 

" Votaries of the Maypole," cried the flower-decked 
priest, " merrily all day long have the w^oods echoed to your 
mirth. But be this your merriest hour, my hearts ! Lo ! 
here stand the Lord and Lady of the May, whom I, a clerk 
of Oxford and high priest of Merry Mount, am presently to 
join in holy matrimony. — Up with your nimble spirits, ye 
morrice-dancers, green men and glee-maidens, bears and 
wolves and horned gentlemen ! Come ! a chorus now rich 
with the old mirth of Merry England and the wilder glee 
of this fresh forest, and then a dance, to show the youthful 
pair what life is made of and how airily they should go 
through it! — All ye that love the Maypole, lend your 
voices to the nuptial song of the Lord and Lady of the 
May !" 

This wedlock was more serious than most affairs of Merry 
Mount, where jest and delusion, trick and fantasy, kept up 
a continual carnival. The Lord and Lady of the May, 
though their titles must be laid down at sunset, were really 
and truly to be partners for the dance of life, beginning the 
measure that same bright eve. The wreath of roses that 
hung from the lowest green bough of the Maypole had been 
twined for them, and would be thrown over both their heads 
in symbol of their flowery union. When the priest had 
spoken, therefore, a riotous uproar burst from the rout of 
monstrous figures. 

" Begin you the stave, reverend sir," cried they all, " and 
never did the woods ring to such a merry peal as we of the 
Maypole shall send up." 

Immediately a prelude of pipe, cittern and viol, touched 
with practised minstrelsy, began to play from a neighboring 
thicket in such a mirthful cadence that the boughs of the 
Maypole quivered to the sound. But the May-lord — ^he of 
the gilded staff — chancing to look into his lady's eyes, was 


wonder-struck at the almost pensive glance that met his 

" Edith, sweet Lady of the May," whispered he, reproach- 
fully, " is yon wreath of roses a garland to hang above our 
graves that you look so sad ? Oh, Edith, this is our golden 
time. Tarnish it not by any pensive shadow of the mind, 
for it may be that nothing of futurity will be brighter than 
the mere remembrance of what is now passing." 

" That was the very thought that saddened me. How came 
it in your mind too ?" said Edith, in a still lower tone than 
he ; for it was high treason to be sad at Merry Mount. 
*' Therefore do I sigh amid this festive music. And besides, 
dear Edgar, I struggle as with a dream, and fancy that 
these shapes of our jovial friends are visionary and their mirth 
unreal, and that we are no true lord and lady of the May. 
What is the mystery in my heart?" 

Just then, as if a spell had loosened them, down came a 
little shower of withering rose-leaves from the Maypole. 
Alas for the young lovers! No sooner had their hearts 
glowed with real passion than they were sensible of some- 
thing vague and unsubstantial in their former pleasures, 
and felt a dreary presentiment of inevitable change. From 
the moment that they truly loved they had subjected them- 
selves to earth's doom of care and sorrow and troubled joy, 
and had no more a home at ^lerry Mount. That was 
Edith's mystery. Kow leave we the priest to marry them, 
and the masquers to sport round the ]Maypole till the last 
sunbeam be withdrawn from its summit and the shadows of 
the forest mingle gloomily in the dance. Meanwhile, we 
may discover who these gay people were. 

Two hundred years ago, and more, the Old World and 
its inhabitants became mutually weary of each other. Men 
voyaged by thousands to the West — some to barter glass 
and such like jewels for the furs of the Indian hunter, some 
to conquer virgin empires, and one stern band to pray. 
But none of these motives had much weight with the 


colonists of Merry Mount. Their leaders were men who 
had sported so long with life that when Thought and Wis- 
dom came even these unwelcome guests were led astray by 
the crowd of vanities which they should have put to flight. 
Erring Thought and perverted Wisdom were made to put 
on masques and play the fool. The men of wliom we speak, 
after losing the heart's fresh gayety, imagined a wild philos- 
ophy of pleasure, and came hither to act out their latest day- 
dream. They gathered followers from all that giddy tribe 
whose whole life is like the festal days of soberer men. In 
their train were minstrels not unknown in London streets, 
wandering players whose theatres had been the halls of 
noblemen, mummers, rope-dancers and mountebanks who 
would long be missed at wakes, church-ales and fairs ; in a 
word, mirthmakers of every sort, such as abounded in that 
age, but now began to be discountenanced by the rapid 
growth of Puritanism. Light had their footsteps been on 
land, and as lightly they came across the sea. Many had 
been maddened by their previous troubles into a gay 
despair ; others were as madly gay in the flush of youth, 
like the May-lord and his lady; but, whatever might be 
the quality of their mirth, old and young were gay at 
Merry Mount. The young deemed themselves happy. 
The elder spirits, if they knew that mirth was but the coun- 
terfeit of happiness, yet followed the false shadow wilfully, 
because at least her garments glittered brightest. Sworn 
triflers of a lifetime, they would not venture among the 
sober truths of life, not even to be truly blest. 

All the hereditary pastimes of Old England were trans- 
planted hither. The King of Christmas was duly crowned 
and the Lord of Misrule bore potent sway. On the eve of 
Saint John they felled whole acres of the forest to make 
bonfires, and danced by the blaze all night crowned with 
garlands and throwing flowers into the flame. At harvest- 
time, though their crop was of the smallest, they made an 
image with the sheaves of Indian corn and wreathed it with 


autumnal garlands and bore it home triumphantly. But 
what chiefly characterized the colonists of Merry Mount 
was their veneration for the Maypole. It has made their 
true history a poet's tale. Spring decked the hallowed em- 
blem with young blossoms and fresh green boughs, Summer 
brought roses of the deepest blush and the perfected foliage 
of the forest, Autumn enriched it with that red-and-yellow 
gorgeousness which converts each wildwood leaf into a 
painted flower, and Winter silvered it with sleet and hung 
it round with icicles till it flashed in the cold sunshine, itself 
a frozen sunbeam. Thus each alternate season did homage 
to the Maypole and paid it a tribute of its own richest 
splendor. Its votaries danced round it once, at least, in ev- 
ery month ; sometimes they called it their religion or their 
altar, but always it was the banner-staff* of Merry Mount. 

Unfortunately, there were men in the New World of a 
sterner laith than these Maypole worshippers. Kot far 
from Merry Mount was a settlement of Puritans — most 
dismal Avretches who said their jjrayers before daylight and 
then wrought in the forest or the cornfield till evening made it 
prayer-time again. Their weapons were always at hand to 
«hoot down the straggling savage. When they met in con- 
clave, it was never to keep up the old English mirth, but 
to hear sermons three hours long or to proclaim bounties 
on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians. Their 
festivals were fast-days and their chief pastime the singing 
of psalms. Woe to the youth or maiden who did but dream 
of a dance ! The selectman nodded to the constable, and 
there sat the light-heeled reprobate in the stocks ; or if he 
danced, it was round the whipping-j^ost, which might be 
termed the Puritan ^laypole. 

A party of these grim Puritans, toiling through the diffi- 
cult woods, each with a horse-load of iron armor to burden 
his footsteps, would sometimes draw near the sunny jorecincts 
of Merry Mount. There were the silken colonists sporting 
round their Maypole, perhaps teaching a bear to dance, or 


striving to communicate their mirth to the grave Indian, or 
masquerading in the skins of deer and wolves which they 
had hunted for that especial purpose. Often the whole 
colony were playing at Blindman's Buff, magistrates and 
all with their eyes bandaged, except a single scapegoat, 
whom the blinded sinners pursued by the tinkling of the bells 
at his garments. Once, it is said, they were seen following 
a flower-decked corpse with merriment and festive music to 
his grave. But did the dead man laugh ? In their quietest 
times they sang ballads and told tales for the edification of 
their pious visitors, or perplexed them with juggling tricks, 
or grinned at them through horse-collars ; and when sport 
itself grew wearisome, they made game of their own stupid- 
ity and began a yawning-match. At the very least of these 
enormities the men of iron shook their heads and frowned 
so darkly that the revellers looked up, imagining that a 
momentary cloud had overcast the sunshine which was to 
be perpetual there. On the other hand, the Puritans 
affirmed that when a psalm was pealing from their place of 
worship the echo which the forest sent them back seemed 
often like the chorus of a jolly catch, closing with a roar 
of laughter. Who but the fiend and his bond-slaves the 
crew of Merry Mount had thus disturbed them ? In due 
time a feud arose, stern and bitter on one side, and as serious 
on the other as anything could be among such light spirits 
as had sworn allegiance to the Maypole. The future com- 
plexion of New England was involved in this important 
quarrel. Should the grisly saints establish their jurisdic- 
tion over the gay sinners, then would their spirits darken 
all the clime and make it a land of clouded visages, of hard 
toil, of sermon and psalm for ever ; but should the banner- 
staff of Merry Mount be fortunate, sunshine would break 
upon the hills, and flowers would beautify the forest and 
late posterity do homage to the Maypole. 

After these authentic passages from history we return to 
the nuptials of the Lord and Lady of the May. Alas ! 


we have delayed too long, and must darken our tale too 
suddenly. As we glance again at the Maypole a solitary 
sunbeam is fading from the summit, and leaves only a faint 
golden tinge blended with the hues of the rainbow banner. 
Even that dim light is now withdrawn, relinquishing the 
whole domain of Merry Mount to the evening gloom which 
has rushed so instantaneously from the black surrounding 
woods. But some of these black shadows have rushed forth 
in human shape. 

Yes, with the setting sun the last day of mirth had passed 
from Merry Mount. The ring of gay masquers was disorder- 
ed and broken ; the stag lowered his antlers in dismay ; the 
wolf grew weaker than a lamb ; the bells of the morrice- 
dancers tinkled with tremulous affright. The Puritans had 
played a characteristic part in the Maypole mummeries. 
Their darksome figures were intermixed with the wild shapes 
of their foes, and made the scene a picture of the moment 
when waking thoughts start up amid the scattered fantasies 
of a dream. The leader of the hostile party stood in the 
centre of the circle, while the rout of monsters cowered 
around him like evil spirits in the presence of a dread 
magician. No fantastic foolery could look him in the face. 
So stern was the energy of his aspect that the whole man, 
visage, frame and soul, seemed wrought of iron gifted with 
life and thoup-ht, vet all of one substance with his head- 
piece and breastplate. It was the Puritan of Puritans : it 
was Endicott himself. 

*' Stand off, priest of Baal !" said he, with a grim frown 
and laying no reverent hand upon the surplice. " I know 
thee, Blackstone ! ^ Thou art the man who couldst not 
abide the rule even of thine own corrupted Church, and 
hast come hither to preach iniquity and to give example of it 

^ Did Governor Endicott speak less positively, we should suspect 
a mistake here. The Rev. Mr. Blackstone, though an eccentric, is 
not known to have been an immoral man. We rather doubt his 
identity with the priest of Merry Mount. 


in thy life. But now shall it be seen that the Lord hath 
sanctified this wilderness for his peculiar people. Woe unto 
them that would defile it ! And first for this flower-decked 
abomination, the altar of thy worship) !" 

And with his keen sword Endicott assaulted the hallowed 
Maypole. Nor long did it resist his arm. It groaned with 
a dismal sound, it showered leaves and rosebuds upon the 
remorseless enthusiast, and finally, with all its green boughs 
and ribbons and flowers, symbolic of departed pleasures, 
down fell the banner-stafl* of IVIerry Mount. As it sank, 
tradition says, the evening sky grew darker and the >voods 
threw forth a more sombre shadow. 

"There!" cried Endicott, looking triumphantly on his 
work ; " there lies the only Maypole in New England. The 
thought is strong within me that by its fall is shadowed forth 
the fate of light and idle mirthmakers amongst us and our 
posterity. Amen, saith John Endicott !" 

" Amen !" echoed his followers. 

But the votaries of the Maypole gave one groan for their 
idol. At the sound the Puritan leader glanced at the crew 
of Comus, each a figure of broad mirth, yet at this moment 
strangely expressive of sorrow and dismay. 

" Valiant captain," quoth Peter Palfrey, the ancient 
of the band, " what order shall be taken with the pris- 
oners ?" 

" I thought not to repent me of cutting down a Maypole," 
replied Endicott, " yet now I could find in my heart to 
plant it again and give each of these bestial pagans one 
other dance round their idol. It would have served rarely 
for a whipping-post." 

" But there are pine trees enow," suggested the lieuten- 

" True, good ancient," said the leader. " Wherefore bind 
the heathen crew and bestow on them a small matter of 
stripes apiece as earnest of our future justice. Set some 
of the rogues in the stocks to rest themselves so soon aa 


Providence shall bring us to one of our own well-ordered 
settlements where such accommodations may be found. 
Further penalties, such as branding and cropping of ears, 
shall be thought of hereafter." 

"How many stripes for the priest?" inquired Ancient 

"None as yet," answered Endicott, bending his iron 
frown upon the culprit. " It must be for the Great and 
General Court to determine whether stripes and long im- 
prisonment, and other grievous penalty, may atone for his 
transgressions. Let him look to himself. For such as vio- 
late our civil order it may be permitted us to show mercy, 
but woe to the wretch that troubleth our religion !" 

" And this dancing bear ?" resumed the officer. " Must 
he share the stripes of his fellows ?" 

"Shoot him through the head!" said the energetic Puri- 
tan. " I suspect witchcraft in the beast." 

" Here be a couple of shining ones," continued Peter 
Palfrey, pointing his weapon at the Lord and Lady of the 
May. " They seem to be of high station among these mis- 
doers. Methinks their dignity will not be fitted with less 
than a double share of stripes." 

Endicott rested on his sword and closely sur\^yed the 
dress and aspect of the hapless pair. There they stood, 
pale, downcast and apprehensive, yet there was an air 
of mutual support and of pure affection seeking aid and 
giving it that showed them to be man and wife with 
the sanction of a priest upon their love. The youth in 
the peril of the moment, had dropped his gilded stafi* 
and thrown his arm about the Lady of the May, who leaned 
against his breast too lightly to burden him, but with weight 
enough to express that their destinies were linked together 
for good or evil. They looked first at each other and then 
into the grim captain's face. There they stood in the first 
hour of wedlock, while the idle pleasures of which their 
companions were the emblems had given place to the sternest 


cares of life, personified by the dark Puritans. But never 
had their youthful beauty seemed so pure and high as when 
its glow was chastened by adversity. 

" Youth," said Endicott, " ye stand in an evil case— thou 
and thy maiden-wife. Make ready presently, for I am 
minded that ye shall both have a token to remember your 

" Stern man," cried the May-lord, " how can I move thee ? 
Were the means at hand, I v/ould resist to the death ; being 
powerless, I entreat. Do with me as thou wilt, but let 
Edith go untouched." 

" Not so," replied the immitigable zealot. " We are not 
w^ont to show an idle courtesy to that sex which requireth 
the stricter discipline. — What sayest thou, maid? Shall 
thy silken bridegroom suffer thy share of the penalty be- 
sides his own ?" 

'■' Be it death," said Edith, " and lay it all on me." 

Truly, as Endicott had said, the poor lovers stood in a 
woeful case. Their foes were triumphant, their friends 
captive and abased, their home desolate, the benighted 
wilderness around them, and a rigorous destiny in the 
shape of the Puritan leader their only guide. Yet the 
deepening twilight could not altogether conceal that the 
iron man was softened. He smiled at the fair spectacle of 
early love ; he almost sighed for the inevitable blight of 
early hoj^es. 

" The troubles of life have come hastily on this young 
couple," observed Endicott. " We will see how they com- 
port themselves under their present trials ere we burden 
them with greater. If among the spoil there be any gar- 
ments of a more decent fashion, let them be put upon this 
May-lord and his Lady instead of their glistening vanities. 
Look to it, some of you." 

" And shall not the youth's hair be cut ?" asked Peter 
Palfrey, looking with abhorrence at the lovelock and long 
glossy curls of the young man. 


" Crop it forthwith, and that in the true pumpkin-shell 
fashion," answered the captain. " Then bring them along 
with us, but more gently than their fellows. There be 
qualities in the youth which may make him valiant to fight 
and sober to toil and pious to pray, and in the maiden that 
may fit her to become a mother in our Israel, bringing up 
babes in better nurture than her own hath been. — I^or 
think ye, young ones, that they are the happiest, even in 
our lifetime of a moment, who misspend it in dancing round 
a Maypole." 

And Endicott, the severest Puritan of all who laid the 
rock-foundation of New England, lifted the wreath of roses 
from the ruin of the Maypole and threw it with his own 
gauntleted hand over the heads of the Lord and Lady of 
the May. It was a deed of prophecy As the moral gloom 
of the world overpowers all systematic gayety, even so was 
their home of wild mirth made desolate amid the sad forest. 
They returned to it no more. But as their flowery garland 
was wreathed of the brightest roses that had grown there, 
so in the tie that united them were intertwined all the 
purest and best of their early joys. They went heaven- 
ward supporting each other along the difiScult path which 
it was their lot to tread, and never wasted one regretful 
thought on the vanities of Merry Mount, 


In the course of the year 1656 several of the people 
called Quakers — led, as they professed, by the inward 
movement of the spirit — made their appearance in Kew 
England. Their reputation as holders of mystic and per- 
nicious principles having spread before them, the Puritans 
early endeavored to banish and to prevent the furtlier 
intrusion of the rising sect. But the measures by which 
it was intended to purge the land of heresy, though more 
than sufficiently vigorous, were entirely unsuccessful. The 
Quakers, esteeming persecution as a divine call to the post 
of danger, laid claim to a holy courage unknown to the 
Puritans themselves, who had shunned the cross by provid- 
ing for the peaceable exercise of their religion in a dis- 
tant wilderness. Though it was the singular fact that every 
nation of the earth rejected the wandering enthusiasts who 
practised peace toward all men, the place of greatest un- 
easiness and peril, and therefore in their eyes the most 
eligible, was the province of Massachusetts Bay. 

The fines, imprisonments and stripes liberally distributed 
by our pious forefathers, the popular antipathy, so strong 
that it endured nearly a hundred years after actual per- 
secution had ceased, were attractions as powerful for the 
Quakers as peace, honor and reward would have been for 
the worldly-minded. Every European vessel brought new 
cargoes of the sect, e^ager„ to . testify against the oppression 
which they hoped to share; and when shipmasters were 



restrained by heavy fines from afibrding them passage, 
they made long and circuitous journeys through the Indian 
country, and appeared in the province as if conveyed by 
a supernatural power. Their enthusiasm, heightened almost 
to madness by the treatment which they received, pro- 
duced actions contrary to the rules of decency as well as 
of rational religion, and presented a singular contrast to 
the calm and staid deportment of their sectarian successors 
of the present day. The command of the Spirit, inaudible 
except to the soul and not to be controverted on grounds 
of human wisdom, was made a plea for most indecorous ex- 
hibitions which, abstractedly considered, well deserved the 
moderate chastisement of the rod. These extravagances, 
and the persecution which w^as at once their cause and con- 
sequence, continued to increase, till in the year 1659 the 
government of Massachusetts Bay indulged two members 
of the Quaker sect with the crown of martyrdom. 

An indelible stain of blood is upon the hands of all who 
consented to this act, but a large share of the awful responsi- 
bility must rest upon the person then at the head of the 
government. He was a man of narrow mind and imperfect 
education, and his uncompromising bigotry was made hot 
and mischievous by violent and hasty passions; he ex- 
erted his influence indecorously and unjustifiably to com- 
pass the death of the enthusiasts, and his whole conduct in 
respect to them was marked by brutal cruelty. The 
Quakers, whose revengeful feelings were not less deep 
because they were inactive, remembered this man and his 
associates in after-times. The historian of the sect affirms 
that by the wrath of Heaven a blight fell upon the land in 
the vicinity of the " bloody town " of Boston, so that no 
wheat would grow there ; and he takes his stand, as it were, 
among the graves of the ancient persecutors, and triumph- 
antly recounts the judgments that overtook them in old age 
or at the parting-hour. He tells us that they died suddenly 
and violently and in madness, but nothing can exceed the 


bitter mockery witli win* eh he records the loathsome dis- 
ease and "death by rottenness" of the fierce and cruel 

On the evening of the autumn day that had witnessed 
the martyrdom of two men of the Quaker persuasion, a 
Puritan settler was returning from the metropolis to the 
neighboring country-town in which he resided. The air was 
cool, the sky clear, and the lingering twilight was made 
brighter by the rays of a young moon which had now 
nearly reached the verge of the horizon. The traveller, 
a man of middle age, wrapped in a gray frieze cloak, 
quickened his pace when he had reached the outskirts of 
the town, for a gloomy extent of nearly four miles lay 
between him and his home. The low straw-thatched 
houses were scattered at considerable intervals along the 
road, and, the country having been settled but about 
thirty years, the tracts of original forest still bore no small 
proportion to the cultivated ground. The autumn wind 
wandered among the branches, whirling away the leaves 
from all except the pine trees and moaning as if it 
lamented the desolation of which it was the instrument. 
The road had penetrated the mass of woods that lay near- 
est to the town, and was just emerging into an open space, 
when the traveller's ears were saluted by a sound more 
mournful than even that of the wind. It was like the 
wailing of some one in distress, and it seemed to proceed 
from beneath a tall and lonely fir tree in the centre of a 
cleared but unenclosed and uncultivated field. The 
Puritan could not but remember that this was the very 
spot which had been made accursed a few hours before 
by the execution of the Quakers, whose bodies had been 
thrown together into one hasty grave beneath the tree on 
which they suffered. He struggled, however, against the 
superstitious fears which belonged to the age, and com- 
pelled himself to pause^ and listen. 



" The voice is most likely mortal, nor have I cause to 
tremble if it be otherwise," thought he, strainiug his eyes 
through the dim moonlight. " Methiuks it is like the wail- 
ing of a child — some infant, it may be, which has strayed 
from its mother and chanced upon this place of death. For 
the ease of mine own conscience I must search this matter 
out." He therefore left the path and walked somewhat 
fearfully across the field. Though now so desolate, its soil 
was pressed down and trampled by the thousand footsteps 
of those who had witnessed the spectacle of that day, all 
of whom had now retired, leaving the dead to their lone- 

The traveller at length reached the fir tree, which from 
the middle upward was covered with living branches, 
although a scaffold had been erected beneath, and other 
preparations made for the work of death. Under this 
unhappy tree — which in after-times w^as believed to drop 
poison with its dew — sat the one solitary mourner for inno- 
cent blood. It was a slender and light-clad little boy v/ho 
leaned his face upon a hillock of fresh-turned and half-frozen 
earth and wailed bitterly, yet in a suppressed tone, as if his 
grief might receive the punishment of crime. The Puritan, 
whose approach had been unperceived, laid his hand upon 
the child's shoulder and addressed him compassionately. 

"You have chosen a dreary lodging, my poor boy, and 
no wonder that you weep," said he. " But dry your eyes 
and tell me where your mother dwells ; I promise you, if 
the journey be not too far, I will leave you in her arm.s to- 

The boy had hushed his wailing at once, and turned his 
face upward to the stranger. It was a pale, bright-eyed 
countenance, certainly not more than six years old, but sor- 
row, fear and want had destroyed much of its infantile 
expression. The Puritan, seeing the boy's frightened gaze 
and feeling that he trembled under his hand, endeavored to 
reassure him: 


" Nay, if I intended to do you harm, little lad, the readiest 
way were to leave you here. What ! you do not fear to sit 
beneath the gallows on a new-made grave, and yet you 
tremble at a friend's touch ? Take heart, child, and tell me 
what is your name and where is your home." 

" Friend," replied the little boy, in a sweet though faltering 
voice, " they call me Ilbrahim, and my home is here." 

The pale, spiritual face, the eyes that seemed to mingle 
with the moonlight, the sweet, airy voice and the outlandish 
name almost made the Puritan believe that the boy was in 
truth a being which had sprung up out of the grave on 
which he sat ; but perceiving that the apparition stood the 
test of a short mental prayer, and remembering that the 
arm which he had touched was lifelike, he adopted a more 
rational supposition. " The poor child is stricken in his 
intellect," thought he, " but verily his words are fearful in 
a place like this." He then spoke soothingly, intending to 
humor the boy's fantasy: 

" Your home will scarce be comfortable, Ilbrahim, this 
cold autumn night, and I fear you are ill-provided with food. 
I am hastening to a warm supper and bed ; and if you will 
go with me, you shall share them." 

'' I thank thee, friend, but, though I be hungry and shiv- 
ering with cold, thou wilt not give me food nor lodging," re- 
plied the boy, in the quiet tone which despair had taught 
him even so young. " My father was of the people whom 
all men hate ; they have laid him under this heap of earth, 
and here is my home." 

The Puritan, who had laid hold of little Ilbrahim's hand, 
relinquished it as if he were touching a loathsome reptile. 
But he possessed a compassionate heart which not even 
religious prejudice could harden into stone. " God forbid 
that I should leave this child to perish, though he comes of 
the accursed sect," said he to himself. "Do we not all 
spring from an evil root ? Are we not all in darkness till 
the light doth shine upon us ? He shall not perish, neither 


in body nor, if prayer and instruction may avail for him, m 
soul." He then spoke aloud and kindly to Ilbrahim, who 
had again hid his face in the cold earth of the grave : 

" AVas every door in the land shut against you, my child, 
that you have wandered to this unhallowed spot ?" 

" They drove me forth from the prison when they took my 
father thence," said the boy, " and I stood afar off watching 
the crowd of people ; and when they were gone, I came 
hither, and found only this grave. I knew that my father 
was sleeping herfe, and I said, ' This shall be my home.' " 

" No, child, no, not while I have a roof over my head or 
a morsel to share with you," exclaimed the Puritan, whose 
sympathies were now fully excited. " Rise up and come 
with me, and fear not any harm." 

The boy wept afresh, and clung to the heap of earth as 
if the cold heart beneath it were warmer to him than any in a 
living breast. The traveller, however, continued to entreat 
him tenderly, and, seeming to acquire some degree of con- 
fidence, he at length arose ; but his slender limbs tottered 
with weakness, his little head grew dizzy, and he leaned 
against the tree of death for support. 

" My poor boy, are you so feeble ?" said the Puritan. 
"When did you taste food last?" 

" I ate of bread and water with my father in the prison," 
replied Ilbrahim, " but they brought him none neither yes- 
terday nor to-day, saying that he had eaten enough to bear 
him to his journey's end. Trouble not thyself for my hun- 
ger, kind friend, for I have lacked food many times ere 

The traveller took the child in his arms and wrapped his 
cloak about him, while his heart stirred with shame and 
anger against the gratuitous cruelty of the instruments in 
this persecution. In the awakened warmth of his feelings he 
resolved that at whatever risk he would not forsake the 
poor little defenceless being whom Heaven had confided to 
his care. With this determination he left the accursed field 


and resumed the homeward path from which the wailing of 
the boy had called him. The light and motionless burden 
scarcely impeded his progress, and he soon beheld the fire- 
rays from the windows of the cottage which he, a native of 
a distant clime, had built in the AYestern wilderness. It 
w^as surrounded by a considerable extent of cultivated 
ground, and the dwelling was situated in the nook of a 
wood-covered hill, whither it seemed to have crept for 

"Look up, child," said the Puritan to Ilbrahim, whose 
faint head had sunk upon his shoulder ; " there is our 

At the word " home " a thrill passed through the child's 
frame, but he continued silent. A few moments brought 
them to the cottage door, at which the owner knocked ; for 
at that early period, when savages ^vQre wandering every- 
where among the settlers, bolt and bar were indispensable 
to the security of a dwelling. The summons was answered 
by a bond-servant, a coarse-clad and dull-featured piece of 
humanity, who, after ascertaining that his master was the 
applicant, undid the door and held a flaring pine-knot torch 
to light him in. Farther back in the passageway the red 
blaze discovered a matronly woman, but no little crowd 
of children came bounding forth to greet their father's re- 

As the Puritan entered he thrust aside his cloak and dis- 
played Ilbrahim's face to the female. 

" Dorothy, here is a little outcast whom Providence hath 
put into our hands," observed he. " Be kind to him, even 

as if he w^ere of those dear ones who have departed from 

,1-, " 

" What pale and bright-eyed little boy is this, Tobias ?" 
she inquired. " Is he one whom the wilderness-folk have 
ravished from some Christian mother?" 

" No, Dorothy ; this poor child is no captive from the 
wilderness," he replied. " The heathen savage would have 


given him to eat of his scanty morsel and to drink of his 
birchen cup, but Christian men, alas ! had cast him out to 
die." Then he told her how he had found him beneath the 
gallows, upon his father's grave, and how his heart had 
prompted him like the speaking of an inward voice to take 
the little outcast home and be kind unto him. He acknowl- 
edged his resolution to feed and clothe him as if he were his 
own child, and to afford him the instruction which should 
counteract the pernicious errors hitherto instilled into his 
infant mind. 

Dorothy was gifted with even a quicker tenderness than 
her husband, and she approved of all his doings and in- 

" Have you a mother, dear child ?" she inquired. 

The tears burst forth from his full heart as he attempted 
to reply, but Dorothy at length understood that he had a 
mother, who like the rest of her sect was a persecuted 
wanderer. She had been taken from the prison a short 
time before, carried into the uninhabited wilderness and 
left to perish there by hunger or wild beasts. This was 
no uncommon method of disposing of the Quakers, 
and they were accustomed to boast that the inhabitants 
of the desert were more hospitable to them than ciyil- 

" Fear not, little boy ; you shall not need a mother, and 
a kind one," said Dorothy, when she had gathered this in- 
formation. " Dry your tears, llbrahim, and be my child, 
as I will be your mother." 

The good woman prepared the little bed from which her 
own children had successively been borne to another rest- 
ing-place. Before llbrahim would consent to occupy it he 
knelt down, and as Dorothy listed to his simple and affect- 
ing prayer she marvelled how the parents that had taught 
it to him could have been judged worthy of death. When 
the boy had fallen asleep, she bent over his pale and spirit- 
ual countenance, pressed a kiss upon his white brow, drew 


ths bedclotlies up about his neck, and went awcy with a 
pensive gladness in her heart. 

Tobias Pearson was not among the earliest emigrants 
from the old country. He had remained in England dur- 
ing the first years of the Civil War, in which he had borne 
some share as a cornet of dragoons under Cromwell. But 
when the ambitious designs of his leader began to develop 
themselves, he quitted the army of the Parliament and 
sought a refuge from the strife which was no longer holy 
among the people of his persuasion in the colony of Massa- 
chusetts. A more worldly consideration had perhaps an 
influence in drawing him thither, for New England offered 
advantages to men of unprosperous fortunes as well as to 
dissatisfied religionists, and Pearson had hitherto found it 
difl[icult to provide for a wife and increasing family. To 
this supposed impurity of motive the more bigoted Puritans 
were inclined to impute the removal by death of all the 
children for whose eai'thly good the father had been over- 
thoughtful. They had left their native country blooming 
like roses, and like roses they had perished in a foreign soil. 
Those expounders of the ways of Providence, who had 
thus judged their brother and attributed his domestic 
sorrows to his sin, were not more charitable when they saw 
him and Dorothy endeavoring to fill up the void in their 
hearts by the adoption of an infant of the accursed sect. 
Nor did they fail to communicate their disapprobation to 
Tobias, but the latter in reply merely pointed at the little 
quiet, lovely boy, whose appearance and deportment were 
indeed as powerful arguments as could possibly have been 
adduced in his own favor. Even his beauty, however, and 
his winning manners sometimes produced an effect ultimate- 
ly unfavorable ; for the bigots, when the outer surfaces of 
their iron hearts had been softened and again grew hard, 
affirmed that no merely natural cause could have so worked 
upon them. Their antipathy to the poor infant was also 
increased by the ill-success of divers theological discussions 


in- which it was attempted to convince him of the errors of 
his sect. Ilbrahim, it is true, was not a skilful controver- 
sialist, but the feeling of his religion w^as strong as instinct 
in him, and he could neither be enticed nor driven from the 
faith which his father had died for. 

The odium of this stubbornness was shared in a great 
measure by the child's protectors, insomuch that Tobias 
and Dorothy very shortly began to experience a most bitter 
species of persecution in the cold regards of many a friend 
whom they had valued. The common people manifested 
their opinions more openly. Pearson was a man of some 
consideration, being a representative to the General Court 
and an approved lieutenant in the train-bands, yet within a 
week after his adoption of Ilbrahim he had been both 
hissed and hooted. Once, also, when walking through a 
solitary piece of woods, he heard a loud voice from some 
invisible speaker, and it cried, *' What shall be done to the 
backslider ? Lo ! the scourge is knotted for him, even the 
whip of nine cords, and every cord three knots." These 
insults irritated Pearson's temper for the moment; they 
entered also into his heart, and became imperceptible but 
powerful workers toward an end which his most secret 
thought had not yet whispered. 

On the second Sabbath after Ilbrahim became a mem- 
ber of their family, Pearson and his wife deemed it proper 
that he should appear with them at public worship. They 
had anticipated some opposition to this measure from the 
boy, but he prepared himself in silence, and at the ap- 
pointed hour was clad in the new mourning-suit which 
Dorothy had wrought for him. As the parish was then, 
and during many subsequent years, unprovided with a 
bell, the signal for the commencement of religious exer- 
cises was the beat of a drum. At the first sound of that 
martial call to the place of holy and quiet thoughts 
Tobias and Dorothy set forth, each holding a hand of 


little Ilbrahim, like two parents linked together by the 
infant of their love. On their path through the leafless 
woods they were overtaken by many persons of their ac- 
quaintance, all of whom avoided them and passed by on 
the other side ; but a severer trial awaited their constancy 
when they had descended the hill and drew near the pine- 
built and undecorated house of prayer. Around the door, 
from which the drummer still sent forth his thundering 
summons, was drawn up a formidable phalanx, including 
several of the oldest members of the congregation, many of 
the middle-aged and nearly all the younger males. Pearson 
found it difficult to sustain their united and disapproving 
gaze, but Dorothy, whose mind was differently circum- 
stanced, merely drew the boy closer to her and faltered 
not in her apjDroach. As they entered the door they 
overheard the muttered sentiments of the assemblage; 
and when the reviling voices of the little children smote 
Ilbrahim's ear, he wept. 

The interior aspect of the meeting-house was rude. The 
low ceiling, the unplastered walls, the naked woodwork 
and the undraperied pulpit oftered nothing to excite the 
devotion which without such external aids often remains 
latent in the heart. The floor of the building was occupied 
by rows of long cushionless benches, supplying the place of 
pews, and the broad aisle formed a sexual division impass- 
able except by children beneath a certain age. 

Pearson and Dorothy separated at the door of the 
meeting-house, and Ilbrahim, being within the years of 
infancy, was retained under the care of the latter. ) The 
wrinkled beldams involved themselves in their rusty cloaks 
as he passed by ; even the mild-featured maidens seemed to 
dread contamination ; and many a stern old man arose and 
turned his repulsive and unheavenly countenance upon the 
gentle boy, as if the sanctuary were polluted by his pres- 
ence. He was a sweet infant of the skies that had strayed 
away from his home, and all the inhabitants of this miser- 


able world closed up their impure hearts against him, drew 
back their earth-soiled garments from his touch and said, 
*'We are holier than thou." 

Ilbrahim, seated by the side of his adopted mother and 
retaining fast hold of her hand, assumed a grave and de- 
corous demeanor such as might befit a person of matured 
taste and understanding who should find himself in a 
temple dedicated to some worship which he did not recog- 
nize, but felt himself bound to respect. The exercises had 
not yet commenced, however, when the boy's attention was 
arrested by an event apparently of trifling interest. A 
woman having her face muffled in a hood and a cloak 
drawn completely about her form advanced slowly up the 
broad aisle and took place upon the foremost bench. 
Ilbrahim's faint color varied, his nerves fluttered ; he was 
unable to turn his eyes from the muffled female. 

When the preliminary prayer and hymn were over, the 
minister arose, and, having turned the hour-glass which 
stood by the great Bible, commenced his discourse. He 
was now well stricken in years, a man of pale, thin 
countenance, and his gray hairs were closely covered by 
a black velvet skull-cap. In his younger days he had 
practically learned the meaning of persecution from Arch- 
bishop Laud, and he was not now disposed to forget the 
lesson against which he had murmured then. Introdu- 
cing the often-discussed subject of the Quakers, he gave 
a history of that sect and a description of their tenets in 
which error predominated and prejudice distorted the 
aspect of what was true. He adverted to the recent 
measures in the province, and cautioned his hearers of 
weaker parts against calling in question the just severity 
which God-fearing magistrates had at length been com- 
pelled to exercise. He spoke of the danger of pity — in 
some cases a commendable and Christian virtue, but inap- 
plicable to this pernicious sect. He observed that such was 
their devilish obstinacy in error that even the little chil- 


dren, the sucking babes, were hardened and desperate 
heretics. He affirmed that no man without Heaven's 
especial warrant should attempt their conversion lest while 
he lent his hand to draw them from the slough he should 
himself be precipitated into its lowest depths. 

The sands of the second hour were principally in the 
lower half of the glass when the sennon concluded. An 
approving murmur followed, and the clergyman, having 
given out a hymn, took his seat \dth much self-congratula- 
tion, and endeavored to read the effect of his eloquence in 
the visages of the people. But while voices from all parts 
of the house were tuning themselves to sing a scene 
occurred which, though not very unusual at that period in 
the province, happened to be without precedent in this 

The muffled female, who had hitherto sat motionless in 
the front rank of the audience, now arose and with slow, 
stately and unwavering step ascended the pulpit stairs. The 
quaverings of incipient harmony were hushed and the 
divine sat in speechless and almost terrified astonishment 
while she undid the door and stood up in the sacred desk 
from which his maledictions had just been thundered. She 
then divested herself of the cloak and hood, and appeared 
in a most singular array. A shapeless robe of sackcloth was 
girded about her waist with a knotted cord ; her raven hair 
fell down upon her shoulders, and its blackness was defiled 
by pale streaks of ashes, which she had strewn upon her 
head. Her eyebrows, dark and strongly defined, added to 
the deathly whiteness of a countenance v\'hich, emaciated 
with want and wild with enthusiasm and strange sorrows, 
retained no trace of earlier beauty. This figure stood gaz- 
ing earnestly on the audience, and there was no sound nor 
any movement except a faint shuddering which every man 
observed in his neighbor, but was scarcelv conscious of in 
himself. At length, when her fit of inspiration came, she 
spoke for the first few moments in a low voice and not in- 


variably distinct utterance. Her discourse gave evidence 
of an imagination hopelessly entangled with her reason ; it 
was a vague and incomprehensible rhapsody, which, how- 
ever, seemed to spread its own atmosphere round the 
hearer's soul, and to move his feelings by some influence 
unconnected with the words. As she proceeded beautiful 
but shadowy images would sometimes be seen like bright 
things moving in a turbid river, or a strong and singularly 
shaped idea leapt forth and seized at once on the under- 
standing or the heart. But the course of her unearthly 
eloquence soon led her to the persecutions of her sect, and 
from thence the step was short to her own peculiar sorrows. 
She was naturally a woman of mighty passions, and hatred 
and revenge now wrapped themselves in the garb of piety. 
The character of her speech was changed; her images 
became distinct though wild, and her denunciations had 
an almost hellish bitterness. 

" The governor and his mighty men," she said, " have 
gathered together, taking counsel among themselves and 
saying, ' What shall we do unto this people — even unto the 
people that have come into this land to put our iniquity to 
the blush ?' And, lo ! the devil entereth into the council- 
chamber like a lame man of low stature and gravely appar- 
elled, with a dark and twisted countenance and a bright, 
downcast eye. And he standeth up among the rulers ; yea, 
he goeth to and fro, whispering to each ; and every man 
lends his ear, for his word is ' Slay ! Slay !' But I say unto 
ye, AYoe to them that slay ! Woe to them that shed the 
blood of saints ! Woe to them that have slain the husband 
and cast forth the child, the tender infant, to wander home- 
less and hungry and cold till he die, and have saved the 
mother alive in the cruelty of their tender mercies ! Woe 
to them in their lifetime ! Cursed are they in the delight 
and pleasure of their hearts ! Woe to them in their death- 
hour, whether it come swiftly with blood and violence or 
after long and lingering pain ! Woe in the dark house, in 


the rottenness of the grave, when the children's children 
shall revile the ashes of the fathers ! Woe, woe, woe, at 
the judgment, when all tiie persecuted and all the slain in 
this bloody land, and the father, the mother and the child, 
shall await them in a day that they cannot escape ! Seed 
of the faith, seed of the faith, ye whose hearts are moving 
with a power that ye know not, arise, wash your hands of 
this innocent blood ! Lift your voices, chosen ones, cry 
aloud, and call down a woe and a judgment with me !" 

Having thus given vent to the flood of malignity which 
she mistook for inspiration, the speaker was silent. Her 
voice was succeeded by the hysteric shrieks of several women, 
but the feelings of the audience generally had not been 
drawn onward in the current with her own. They remained 
stupefied, stranded, as it were, in the midst of a torrent 
which deafened them by its roaring, but might not move 
them by its violence. The clergyman, who could not 
hitherto have ejected the usurper of his pulpit otherwise 
than by bodily force, now addressed her in the tone of just 
indignation and legitimate authority. 

" Get you down, woman, from the holy place which you 
profane," he said, " Is it to the Lord's house that you come 
to pour forth the foulness of your heart and the inspiration 
of the devil ? Get you down, and remember that the sen- 
tence of death is on you — yea, and shall be executed, were 
it but for this day's work." 

" I go, friend, I go, for the voice hath had its utterance," 
replied she, in a depressed, and even mild, tone. " I have 
done my mission unto thee and to thy people ; reward me 
with stripes, imprisonment or death, as ye shall be per- 
mitted." The weakness of exhausted passion caused her 
steps to totter as she descended the pulpit stairs. 

The people, in the mean while, were stirring to and fro 
on the floor of the house, whispering among themselves and 
glancing toward the intruder. Many of them now recog- 
nized her as the woman who had assaulted the governor 


with friglitful language as he passed by the windoyv of 
her prison ; they knew, also, that she was adjudged to sujQTer 
death, and had been preserved only by an involuntary ban- 
ishment into the wilderness. The new outrage by which 
she had provoked her fate seemed to render further lenity 
impossible, and a gentleman in military dress, with a stout 
man of inferior rank, drew toward the door of the meeting- 
house and awaited her approach. Scarcely did her feet 
press the floor, however, w^hen an unexpected scene occur- 
red. In that moment of her peril, when every eye frown- 
ed with death, a little timid boy threw his arms round 
his mother. 

" I am here, mother ; it is I, and I will go with thee to 
prison," he exclaimed. 

She gazed at him Avith a doubtful and almost frightened 
expression, for she knew that the boy had been cast out to 
perish, and she had not hoped to see his face again. She 
feared, perhaps, that it was but one of the happy visions 
with which her excited fancy had often deceived her in the 
solitude of the desert or in prison ; but when she felt his 
hand warm within her own and heard his little eloquence 
of childish love, she began to know that she was yet a 

" Blessed art thou, my son !" she sobbed. " My heart 
was withered — yea, dead with thee and with thy father — 
and now it leaps as in the first moment when I pressed thee 
to my bosom." 

She knelt down and embraced him again and again, 
while the joy that could find no words expressed itself in 
broken accents, like the bubbles gushing up to vanish at 
the surface of a deep fountain. The sorrows of past years 
and the darker j^eril that was nigh cast not a shadow on the 
brightness of that fleeting moment. Soon, however, the 
spectators saw a change upon her face as the consciousness 
of her sad estate returned, and grief supplied the fount of 
tears which joy had opened. By the words she uttered it 


"would seem that the indulgence of natural love had given 
her mind a momentary sense of its errors, and made her 
know how far she had strayed from duty in following the 
dictates of a wild fanaticism. 

" In a doleful hour art thou returned to me, poor boy," 
she said, " for thy mother's path has gone darkening on- 
ward, till now the end is death. Son, son, I have borne 
thee in my arms v/hen my limbs were tottering, and I have 
fed thee with the food that I was fainting for ; yet I have 
ill-performed a mother's part by thee in life, and now I 
leave thee no inheritance but woe and shame. Thou wilt 
go seeking through the world, and find all hearts closed 
against thee and their sweet affections turned to bitterness 
for my sake. My child, my child, how many a pang awaits 
thy gentle spirit, and I the cause of all !" 

She hid her face on Ilbrahim's head, and her long raven 
hair, discolored with the ashes of her mourning, fell dowTi 
about him like a veil. A low and interrupted moan was 
the voice of her heart's anguish, and it did not fail to move 
the sympathies of many who mistook their involuntary 
virtue for a sin. Sobs were audible in the female section 
of the house, and every man who was a father drew his 
hand across his eyes. 

Tobias Pearson was agitated and uneasy, but a certain 
feeling like the consciousness of guilt oppressed him ; so 
that he could not go forth and offer himself as the jWotec- 
tor of the child. Dorothy, however, had watched her hus- 
band's eye. Her mind was free from the influence that 
had begun to work on his, and she drew near the Quaker 
woman and addressed her in the hearing of all the congre- 

" Stranger, trust this boy to me, and I will be his 
mother," she said, taking Ilbrahim's hand. " Providence 
has signally marked out my husband to protect him, and 
he has fed at our table and lodged under our roof now 
many days, till our hearts have grown very strongly unto 


him. Leave the tender child with us, and be at ease concern- 
ing his welfare." 

The Quaker rose from the ground, but drew the boy 
closer to her, while she gazed earnestly in Dorothy's face. 
Her mild but saddened features and neat matronly attire 
harmonized together and were like a verse of fireside 
poetry. Her very aspect proved that she was blameless, so 
far as mortal could be so, in respect to God and man, while 
the enthusiast, in her robe of sackcloth and girdle of knotted 
cord, had as evidently violated the duties of the present 
life and the future by fixing her attention wholly on the 
latter. The two females, as they held each a hand of II- 
brahim, formed a practical allegory : it was rational piety 
and unbridled fanaticism contending for the empire of a 
young heart. 

" Thou art not of our people," said the Quaker, mourn- 

" No, we are not of your people," replied Dorothy, with 
mildness, " but we are Christians looking upward to the 
same heaven with you. Doubt not that your boy shall meet 
you there, if there be a blessing on our tender and prayer- 
ful guidance of him. Thither, I trust, my own children 
have gone before me, for I also have been a mother. I am 
no longer so," she added, in a faltering tone, " and your sou 
will have all my care." 

" But will ye lead him in the path which his parents have 
trodden ?" demanded the Quaker. " Can ye teach him the 
enlightened faith which his father has died for, and for 
which I — even I — am soon to become an unworthy martyr ? 
The boy has been baptized in blood ; will ye keep the mark 
fresh and ruddy upon his forehead ?" 

" I will not deceive you," answered Dorothy. " If your 
child become our child, we must breed him up in the in- 
struction which Heaven has imparted to us ; we must pray 
for him the prayers of our own faith ; we must do toward 


tim according to the dictates of our own consciences, and 
not of yours. Were we to act otherwise, we should abuse 
your trust, even in complying with your wishes." 

The mother looked down upon her boy with a troubled 
countenance, and then turned her eyes upward to heaven. 
She seemed to pray internally, and the contention of her 
soul was evident. 

" Friend," she said, at length, to Dorothy, " I doubt not 
that my son shall receive all earthly tenderness at thy 
hands. Nay, I will believe that even thy imperfect lights 
may guide him to a better world, for surely thou art on the 
path thither. But thou hast spoken of a husband. Doth 
he stand here among this multitude of people? Let him 
come forth, for I must know to whom I commit this most 
precious trust." 

She turned her face upon the male auditors, and after a 
momentary delay Tobias Pearson came forth from among 
them. The Quaker saw the dress which marked his mili- 
tary rank, and shook her head ; but then she noted the 
hesitating air, the eyes that struggled with her own and 
were vanquished, the color that went and came and could 
find no resting-place. As she gazed an unmirthftil smile 
spread over her features, like sunshine that grows melan- 
choly in some desolate spot. Her lips moved inaudibly, 
but at length she spake : 

" I hear it, I hear it ! The voice speaketh within me and 
saith, * Leave thy child, Catharine, for his place is here, and 
go hence, for I have other work for thee. Break the bonds 
of natural affection, martyr thy love, and know that in all" 
these things eternal wisdom hath its ends.' I go, friends, I 
go. Take ye my boy, my precious jewel. I go hence 
trusting that all shall be well, and that even for his infant 
hands there is a labor in the vineyard." 

She knelt down and whispered to Ilbrahim, who at first 
struggled and clung to his mother with sobs and tears, but 
remained passive when she had kissed his cheek and arisen 


from the ground. Having held her hands over his head in 
mental prayer, she was ready to depart. 

" Farewell, friends in mine extremity," she said to Pear- 
son and his wife ; " the good deed ye have done me is a 
treasure laid up in heaven, to be returned a thousandfold here- 
after. — And farewell, ye mine enemies, to whom it is not 
permitted to harm so much as a hair of my head, nor to 
stay my footsteps even for a moment. The day is coming 
when ye shall call upon me to witness for ye to this one sin 
uncommitted, and I will rise up and answer." 

She turned her steps toward the door, and the men who 
had stationed themselves to guard it withdrew and suffered 
her to pass. A general sentiment of pity overcame the 
virulence of religious hatred. Sanctified by her love and 
her afiliction, she went forth, and all the people gazed after 
her till she had journeyed up the hill and was lost behind 
its brow. She went, the apostle of her own unquiet heart, 
to renew the wanderings of past years. For her voice had 
been already heard in many lands of Christendom, and she 
had pined in the cells of a Catholic Inquisition before she 
felt the lash and lay in the dungeons of the Puritans. Her 
mission had extended also to the followers of the Prophet, 
and from them she had received the courtesy and kindness 
which all the contending sects of our purer religion united 
to deny her. Her husband and herself had resided many 
months in Turkey, where even the sultan's countenance was 
gracious to them ; in that pagan land, too, was Ilbrahim's 
birthplace, and his Oriental name was a mark of gratitude 
for the good deeds of an unbeliever. 

When Pearson and his wife had thus acquired all the rights 
over Ilbrahim that could be delegated, their affection for 
him became, like the memory of their native land or their 
mild sorrow for the dead, a piece of the immovable furni- 
ture of their hearts. The boy, also, after a week or two of 
mental disquiet, began to gratify his protectors by many in- 


advertent proofs that he considered them as parents and 
their house as home. Before the winter snows were melted 
the persecuted infant, the little wanderer from a remote and 
heathen country, seemed native in the New England cot- 
tage and inseparable from the warmth and security of its 
hearth. Under the influence of kind treatment, and in the 
consciousness that he was loved, Ilbrahim's demeanor lost 
a premature manliness which had resulted from his earlier 
situation ; he became more childlike and his natural char- 
acter displayed itself with freedom. It was in many respects 
a beautiful one, yet the disordered imaginations of both his 
father and mother had perhaps propagated a certain un- 
healthiness in the mind of the boy. In his general state 
Ilbrahim would derive enjoyment from the most trifling 
events and from every object about him ; he seemed to dis- 
cover rich treasures of happiness by a faculty analogous to 
that of the witch-hazel, Vvhich points to hidden gold where 
all is barren to the eye. His airy gayety, coming to him 
from a thousand sources, communicated itself to the family, 
and Ilbrahim was like a domesticated sunbeam, brightening 
moody countenances and chasing away the gloom from the 
.jdark corners of the cottage. 

On the other hand, as the susceptibility of pleasure is also 
that of pain, the exuberant cheerfulness of the boy's pre- 
vailing temper sometimes yielded to moments of deep 
depression. His sorrows could not always be followed up 
to their original source, but most frequently they appeared 
to flow — though Ilbrahim was young to be sad for such a 
cause — from wounded love. The flightiness of his mirth 
rendered him often guilty of offences against the decorum 
of a Puritan household, and on these occasions he did not 
invariably escape rebuke. But the slightest word of real 
bitterness, which he was infallible in distinguishing from 
pretended anger, seemed to sink into his heart and poi- 
son all his enjoyments till he became sensible that he was 
entirely forgiven. Of the malice which generally ac- 


companies a superfluity of sensitiveness Ilbrahim was 
altogether destitute. When trodden upon, he would not 
turn ; when wounded, he could but die. His mind was 
wanting in the stamina of self-support. It was a plant that 
would twine beautifully round something stronger than 
itself; but if repulsed or torn away, it had no choice but to 
wither on the ground. Dorothy's acuteness taught her that 
severity would crush the spirit of the child, and she nurtured 
him with the gentle care of one who handles a butterfly. 
Her husband manifested an equal aflection, although it grew 
daily less productive of familiar caresses. 

The feelings of the neighboring people in regard to the 
Quaker infant and his protectors had not undergone a favor- 
able change, in spite of the momentary triumph which the 
desolate mother had obtained over their sympathies. The 
scorn and bitterness of which he was the object were very 
grievous to Ilbrahim, especially when any circumstance 
made him sensible that the children his equals in age par- 
took of the enmity of their parents. His tender and social 
nature had already overflowed in attachments to everything 
about him, and still there was a residue of unappropriated 
love which he yearned to bestow upon the little ones who 
were taught to hate him. As the warm days of spring came 
on Ilbrahim was accustomed to remain for hours silent and 
inactive within hearing of the children's voices at their play, 
yet with his usual delicacy of feeling he avoided their notice, 
and would flee and hide himself from the smallest individual 
among them. Chance, however, at length seemed to open a 
medium of communication between his heart and theirs ; it 
was by means of a boy about two years older than Ilbrahim, 
who was injured by a fall from a tree in the vicinity of 
Pearson's habitation. As the sufferer's own home was at 
some distance, Dorothy willingly received him under her 
roof and became his tender and careful nurse. 

Ilbrahim was the unconscious possessor of much skill in 
physiognomy, and it would have deterred him in other cir- 


cumstances from attempting to make a friend of this boy. 
The countenance of the latter immediately impressed a be- 
holder disagreeably, but it required some examination to 
discover that the cause was a very slight distortion of the 
mouth and the irregular, broken line and near approach of 
the eyebrows. Analogous, perhaps, to these trifling defor- 
mities was an almost imperceptible twist of every joint and 
the uneven prominence of the breast, forming a body regu- 
lar in its general outline, but faulty in almost all its details. 
The disposition of the boy was sullen and reserved, and the 
village schoolmaster stigmatized him as obtuse in intellect, 
although at a later period of life he evinced ambition and 
very peculiar talents. But, whatever might be his personal 
or moral irregularities, Ilbrahim's heart seized upon and 
clung to him from the moment that he was brought wounded 
into the cottage ; the child of persecution seemed to com- 
pare his own fate with that of the sufferer, and to feel that 
even different modes of misfortune had created a sort of 
relationship between them. Food, rest and the fresh air 
for which he languished were neglected ; he nestled contin- 
ually by the bedside of the little stranger and with a fond 
jealousy endeavored to be the medium of all the cares that 
were bestowed upon him. As the boy became convalescent 
Ilbrahim contrived games suitable to his situation or amused 
him by a faculty which he had perhaps breathed in with 
the air of his barbaric birthplace. It was that of reciting 
imaginary adventures on the spur of the moment, and ap- 
parently in inexhaustible succession. His tales were, of 
course, monstrous, disjointed and without aim, but they were 
curious on account of a vein of human tenderness which 
ran through them all and was like a sweet familiar face 
encountered in the midst of wild and unearthly scenery. 
The auditor paid much attention to these romances and 
sometimes interrupted them by brief remarks upon the in- 
cidents, displaying shrewdness above his years, mingled with 
a moral obliquity which grated very harshly against libra- 


him's instinctive rectitude. Nothing, however, could arrest 
the progress of the latter 's affection, and there were many- 
proofs that it met with a response from the dark and stub- 
born nature on which it was lavished. The boy's parents 
at length removed him to complete his cure under their 
own roof. 

librahim did not visit his new friend after his departure, 
but he made anxious and continual inquiries respecting him 
and informed himself of the day when he was to reappear 
among his playmates. On a pleasant summer afternoon 
the children of the neighborhood had assembled in the little 
forest-crowned amphitheatre behind the meeting-house, and 
the recovering invalid was there, leaning on a staff. The 
glee of a score of untainted bosoms was heard in light and 
airy voices, which danced among the trees like sunshine 
become audible ; the grown men of this weary w^orld as they 
journeyed by the spot marvelled why life, beginning in 
such brightness, should proceed in gloom, and their hearts 
or their imaginations answered them and said that the bliss 
of childhood gushes from its innocence. But it happened 
that an unexpected addition was made to the heavenly little 
band. It was librahim, who came toward the children 
with a look of sweet confidence on his fair and spiritual face, 
as if, having manifested his love to one of them, he had no 
longer to fear a repulse from their society. A hush came 
over their mirth the moment they beheld him, and they 
stood whispering to each other while he drew nigh ; but all 
at once the devil of their fathers entered into the unbreeched 
fanatics, and, sending up a fierce, shrill cry, they rushed 
upon the poor Quaker child. In an instant he was the 
centre of a brood of baby-fiends, who lifted sticks against 
him, pelted him with stones and displayed an instinct of 
destruction far more loathsome than the bloodthirstiness of 

The invalid, in the mean while, stood apart from the tu- 
mult, crying out with a loud voice, " Fear not, librahim ; 


come hitlier and take my hand," and his unhappy friend 
endeavored to obey him. After watching the victim's 
struggling approach with a calm smile and unabashed eye, 
the foul-hearted little villain lifted his staff and struck 
Ilbrahim on the mouth so forcibly that the blood issued in 
a stream. The poor child's arms had been raised to guard 
his head from the storm of blows, but now he dropped them 
at once. His persecutors beat him down, trampled upon 
him, dragged him by his long fair locks, and Ilbrahim was 
on the point of becoming as veritable a martyr as ever 
entered bleeding into heaven. The uproar, however, at- 
tracted the notice of a few neighbors, who put themselves 
to the trouble of rescuing the little heretic, and of convey- 
ing him to Pearson's door. 

Ilbrahim's bodily harm was severe, but long and careful 
nursing accomplished his recovery ; the injury done to his 
sensitive spirit was more serious, though not so visible. Its 
signs were principally of a negative character, and to be 
discovered only by those who had previously known him. 
His gait was thenceforth slow, even and unvaried by the 
sudden bursts of sprightlier motion which had once corre- 
sponded to his overflowing gladness ; his countenance was 
heavier, and its former play of expression — the dance of 
sunshine reflected from moving water — was destroyed by 
the cloud over his existence ; his notice was attracted in a 
far less degree by passing events, and he appeared to find 
greater difiiculty in comprehending what was new to him 
than at a happier period. A stranger founding his judg- 
ment upon these circumstances would have said that the 
dulness of the child's intellect widely contradicted the 
promise of his features, but the secret was in the direction 
of Ilbrahim's thoughts, which were brooding within him 
when they should naturally have been wandering abroad. 
An attempt of Dorothy to revive his former sportiveness 
was the single occasion on which his quiet demeanor yielded 
to a violent display of grief; he burst into passionate weep- 


ing and ran and hid himself, for his heart had become so 
miserably sore that even the hand of kindness tortured it 
like fire. Sometimes at night, and probably in his dreams, 
he was heard to cry, "Mother! Mother!" as if her place, 
which a stranger had supplied while Ilbrahim was happy, 
admitted of no substitute in his extreme affliction. Perhaps 
among the many life-weary wretches then upon the earth 
there was not one who combined innocence and misery like 
this poor broken-hearted infant so soon the victim of his 
own heavenly nature. 

While this melancholy change had taken place in Ilbra- 
him, one of an earlier origin and of different character had 
come to its perfection in his adopted father. The incident 
with which this tale commences found Pearson in a state 
of religious dulness, yet mentally disquieted and longing 
for a more fervid faith than he possessed. The first effect 
of his kindness to Ilbrahim was to produce a softened feel- 
ing, an incipient love for the child's whole sect, but joined 
to this, and resulting, perhaps, from self-suspicion, was a 
proud and ostentatious contempt of their tenets and practi- 
cal extravagances. In the course of much thought, how- 
ever — for the subject struggled irresistibly into his mind — 
the foolishness of the doctrine began to be less evident, and 
the points which had particularly offended his reason 
assumed another aspect or vanished entirely away. The 
work within him appeared to go on even while he slept, and 
that which had been a doubt when he laid down to rest 
would often hold the place of a truth confirmed by some 
forgotten demonstration when he recalled his thoughts in 
the morning. But, while he was thus becoming assimilated 
to the enthusiasts, his contempt, in nowise decreasing toward 
them, grew very fierce against himself; he imagined, also, 
that every face of his acquaintance wore a sneer, and that 
every word addressed to him was a gibe. Such was his 
state of mind at the period of Ilbrahim's misfortune, and 


the emotions consequent upon that event completed the 
change of which the child had been the original instru- 

In the mean time, neither the fierceness of the persecu- 
tors nor the infatuation of their victims had decreased. 
The dungeons were never empty ; the streets of almost 
every village echoed daily with the lash ; the life of a 
woman whose mild and Christian spirit no cruelty could 
embitter had been sacrificed, and more innocent blood was 
yet to pollute the hands that were so often raised in prayer. 
Early after the Kestoration the English Quakers repre- 
sented to Charles II. that a " vein of blood was open in his 
dominions," but, though the displeasure of the voluptuous 
king was roused, his interference was not prompt. And 
now the tale must stride forward over many months, leaving 
Pearson to encounter ignominy and misfortune ; his wife, to a 
firm endurance of a thousand sorrows ; poor Ilbrahim, to 
pine and droop like a cankered rose-bud ; his mother, to 
wander on a mistaken errand, neglectful of the holiest 
trust which can be committed to a woman. 

A winter evening, a night of storm, had darkened over 
Pearson's habitation, and there were no cheerful faces to 
drive the gloom from his broad hearth. The fire, it is true, 
sent forth a glowing heat and a ruddy light, and large logs 
dripping with half-melted snow lay ready to cast upon the 
embers. But the apartment was saddened in its aspect by 
the absence of much of the homely wealth which had once 
adorned it, for the exaction of repeated fines and his own 
neglect of temporal affairs had greatly impoverished the 
owner. And with the furniture of peace the implements 
of war had likewise disappeared ; the sword was broken, 
the helm and cuirass were ca*t away for ever : the soldier 
had done with battles, and might not lift so much as his 
naked hand to guard his head. But the Holy Book re- 
mained, and the table on which it rested was drawn before 




the fire, while two of the persecuted sect sought comfort 
from its pages. 

He who listened while the other read was the master of the 
house, now emaciated in form and altered as to the expres- 
sion and healthiness of his countenance, for his mind had 
dwelt too long among visionary thoughts and his body had 
been worn by imprisonment and stripes. The hale and 
weatherbeaten old man who sat beside him had sustained 
less injury from a far longer course of the same mode of 
life. In person he was tall and dignified, and, which alone 
would have made him hateful to the Puritans, his gray 
locks fell from beneath the broad-brimmed hat and rested 
on his shoulders. As the old man read the sacred page the 
snow drifted against the windows or eddied in at the crev- 
ices of the door, while a blast kept laughing in the chimney 
and the blaze leaped fiercely up to seek it. And sometimes, 
when the wind struck the hill at a certain angle and swept 
down by the cottage across the wintry plain, its voice was 
the most doleful that can be conceived; it came as if the 
past were speaking, as if the dead had contributed each a 
whisper, as if the desolation of ages were breathed in that 
one lamenting sound. 

The Quaker at length closed the book, retaining, how- 
ever, his hand between the pages which he had been reading, 
while he looked steadfastly at Pearson. The attitude and 
features of the latter might have indicated the endurance 
of bodily pain ; he leaned his forehead on his hands, his 
teeth were firmly closed and his frame was tremulous at 
intervals with a nervous agitation. 

" Friend Tobias," inquired the old man, compassionately, 
" hast thou found no comfort in these many blessed passages 
of Scripture?" 

" Thy voice has fallen on my ear like a sound afar off 
and indistinct," replied Pearson, without liftiag his eyes. 
" Yea ; and when I have hearkened carefully, the words 
seemed cold and lifeless and intended for another and a 


lesser grief than mine. Remove the book," he added, in a 
tone of sullen bitterness ; " I have no part in its consolations, 
and they do but fret my sorrow the more." 

" Nay, feeble brother ; be not as one who hath never 
knov/n the light," said the elder Quaker, earnestly, but with 
mildness. " Art thou he that wouldst be content to give all 
and endure all for conscience' sake, desiring even peculiar 
trials that thy faith might be purified and thy heart weaned 
from worldly desires? And wilt thou sink beneath an 
affliction which happens alike to them that have their 
portion here below and tc them that lay up treasure in 
heaven? Faint not, for thy burden is yet light." 

"It is heavy! It is heavier than I can bear!" ex- 
claimed Pearson, with the impatience of a variable spirit. 
*' From my youth upward I have been a man marked out 
for wrath, and year by year — yea, day after day — I have 
endured sorrows such as others know not in their lifetime. 
And now I speak not of the love that has been turned to 
hatred, the honor to ignominy, the ease and plentifulness of 
all things to danger, want and nakedness. All this I could 
have bonie and counted myself blessed. But when my 
heart was desolate with many losses, I fixed it upon the 
child of a stranger, and he became dearer to me than all 
my buried ones ; and now he too must die as if my love 
were poison. Verily, I am an accursed maU; and I will lay 
me down in the dust and lift up my head no more." 

" Thou sinnest, brother, but it is not for me to rebuke 
thee, for I also have had my hours of darkness wherein I 
have murmured against the cross," said the old Quaker. He 
continued, perhaps in the hope of distracting liis compan- 
ion's thoughts from his own sorrows : " Even of late was 
the light obscured within me, when the men of blood had 
banished me on pain of death and the constables led me 
onward from village to village toward the wilderness. A 
strong and- cruel hand was wielding the knotted cords; 
they sunk deep into the flesh, and thou mightst have 


tracked every reel and totter of mj footsteps by the blood 
that followed. As we went on — " 

" Have I not borne all this, and have I murmured ?" in- 
terrupted Pearson, impatiently. 

" Nay, friend, but hear me," continued the other. " As 
we journeyed on night darkened on our path, so that no 
man could see the rage of the persecutors or the constancy 
of my endurance, though Heaven forbid that I should glory 
therein. The lights began to glimmer in the cottage win- 
dow's, and I could discern the inmates as they gathered in 
comfort and security, every man with his wife and children 
by their own evening hearth. At length we came to a tract 
of fertile land. In the dim lio;ht the forest was not visible 
around it, and, behold, there was a straw-thatched dwelling 
which bore the very aspect of my home far over the wild 
ocean — far in our own England. Then came bitter 
thoughts upon me — yea, remembrances that were like 
death to my soul. The happiness of my early days was 
painted to me, the disquiet of my manhood, the altered 
faith of my declining years. I remembered how I had 
been moved to go forth a wanderer when my daughter, the 
youngest, the dearest of my flock, lay on her dying-bed, 

" Couldst thou obey the command at such a moment?" 
exclaimed Pearson, shuddering. 

"Yea! yea!" replied the old man, hurriedly. "I was 
kneeling by her bedside when the voice spoke loud within 
me, but immediately I rose and took my staff and gat me 
gone. Oh that it were permitted me to forget her woeful 
look when I thus withdrew my arm and left her journeying 
through the dark valley alone ! for her soul was faint and 
she had leaned upon my prayers. Kow in that night of 
horror I was assailed by the thought that I had been an 
erring Christian and a cruel parent ; yea, even my daughter 
with her pale dying features seemed to stand by me and 
whisper, ' Father, you are deceived ; go home and shelter 


your gray head.' — O Thou to whom I have looked in my 
farthest wanderings," continued the Quaker, raising his agi- 
tated eyes to heaven, " inflict not upon the bloodiest of our 
persecutors the unmitigated agony of my soul when I be- 
lieved that all I had done and suffered for thee was at the 
instigation of a mocking fiend ! — But I yielded not ; I 
knelt down and wrestled with the tempter, while the 
scourge bit more fiercely into the flesh. My prayer w^as 
heard, and I went on in peace and joy toward the wilder- 

The old man, though his fanaticism had generally all the 
calmness of reason, was deeply moved while reciting this 
tale, and his unwonted emotion seemed to rebuke and keep 
down that of his companion. They sat in silence, with their 
faces to the fire, imagining, perhaps, in its red embers new 
scenes of persecution yet to be encountered. The snow 
still drifted hard against the windows, and sometimes, as the 
blaze of the logs had gradually sunk, came down the 
spacious chimney and hissed upon the hearth. A cautious 
footstep might now and then be heard in a neighboring 
apartment, and the sound invariably drew the eyes of both 
Quakers to the door which led thither. When a fierce and 
riotous gust of wind had led his thoughts by a natural asso- 
ciation to homeless travellers on such a night, Pearson re- 
sumed the conversation. 

" I have wellnigh sunk under my own share of this trial," 
observed he, sighing heavily ; " yet I would that it might 
be doubled to me, if so the child's mother could be spared. 
Her wounds have been deep and many, but this will be the 
sorest of all." 

" Fear not for Catharine," replied the old Quaker, " for 
I know that valiant woman and have seen how she can bear 
the cross. A mother's heart, indeed, is strong in her, and 
may seem to contend mightily with her faith ; but soon she 
will stand up and give thanks that her son has been thus 
early an accepted sacrifice. The boy hath done his work, 


and she will feel that he is taken hence in kindness both to 
him and her. Blessed, blessed are they that with so little 
suffering can enter into peace !" 

The fitful rush of the wind was now disturbed by a por- 
tentous sound : it was a quick and heavy knocking at the 
outer door. Pearson's wan countenance grew paler, for 
many a visit of persecution had taught him what to dread ; 
the old man, on the other hand, stood up erect, and his 
glance was firm as that of the tried soldier who awaits his 

"The men of blood have come to seek me," he observed^ 
with calmness. " They have heard how I was moved to 
return from banishment, and now am I to be led to prison, 
and thence to death. It is an end I have long looked for. 
I will open unto them lest they say, ' Lo, he feareth !' " 

" Nay ; I will present myself before them," said Pearson, 
with recovered fortitude. " It may be that they seek me 
alone and know not that thou abidest with me." 

" Let us go boldly, both one and the other," rejoined 
his companion. " It is not fitting that thou or I should 

They therefore proceeded through the entry to the door, 
which they opened, bidding the applicant "Come in, in 
God's name !" A furious blast of wind drove the storm 
into their faces and extinguished the lamp ; they had barely 
time to discern a figure so white from head to foot with the 
drifted snow that it seemed like Winter's self come in 
human shape to seek refuge from its own desolation. 

" Enter, friend, and do thy errand, be it what it may," 
said Pearson. "It must needs be pressing, since thou 
comest on such a bitter night." 

" Peace be with this household !" said the stranger, when 
they stood on the floor of the inner apartment 

Pearson started ; the elder Quaker stirred the slumbering 
embers of the fire till they sent up a clear and lofty blaze. 
It was a female voice that had spoken; it was a female 


form tliat shone out, cold and wintry, in that comfortable 

"Catharine, blessed woman," exclaimed the old man, 
" art thou come to this darkened land again ? Art thou 
come to bear a valiant testimony as in former years? 
The scourge hath not prevailed against thee, and from 
the dungeon hast thou come forth triumphant, but strength- 
en, strengthen now thy heart, Catharine, for Heaven will 
prove thee yet this once ere thou go to thy reward." 

" Rejoice, friends !" she replied. " Thou who hast long 
been of our people, and thou whom a little child hath led 
to us, rejoice ! Lo, I come, the messenger of glad tidings, 
for the day of persecution is over-past. The heart of 
the king, even Charles, hath been moved in gentleness 
toward us, and he hath sent forth his letters to stay the 
hands of the men of blood. A ship's company of our 
friends hath arrived at yonder town, and I also sailed joy- 
fully among them." 

As Catharine spoke her eyes were roaming about the 
room in search of him for whose sake security was dear to 
her. Pearson made a silent appeal to the old man, nor 
did the latter shrink from the painful task assigned 

" Sister," he began, in a softened yet perfectly calm tone, 
" thou tellest us of his love manifested in temporal good, 
and now must we speak to thee of that selfsame love dis- 
played in chastenings. Hitherto, Catharine, thou hast been 
as one journeying in a darksome and difficult path and 
leading an infant by the hand; fain wouldst thou have 
looked heavenward continually, but still the cares of that 
little child have drawn thine eyes and thy affections to the 
eanh. Sister, go on rejoicing, for his tottering footsteps 
shall impede thine own no more." 

But the unhappy mother was not thus to be consoled. 
She shook like a leaf; she turned white as the very snow 
that hung drifted into her hair. The firm old man ex- 


tended his hand and held her up, keeping his eye upon 
hers as if to repress any outbreak of passion. 

" I am a woman — I am but a woman ; will He try me 
above my strength?" said Catharine, very quickly and 
almost in a whisper. " I have been wounded sore ; I have 
suffered much — many things in the body, many in the mind ; 
crucified in myself and in them that were dearest to me. 
Surely," added she, with a long shudder, " he hath spared 
me in this one thing." She broke forth with sudden and ir- 
repressible violence : " Tell me, man of cold heart, what has 
God done to me ? Hath he cast me down never to rise 
again ? Hath he crushed my very heart in his hand ? — 
And thou to whom I committed my child, how hast thou 
fulfilled thy trust ? Give me back the boy well, sound, alive 
— alive — or earth and heaven shall avenge me !" 

The agonized shriek of Catharine was answered by the 
faint — the very faint — voice of a child. 

On this day it had become evident, to Pearson, to his 
aged guest and to Dorothy that Ilbrahim's brief and 
troubled pilgrimage drew near its close. The two former 
would willingly have remained by him to make use of the 
prayers and pious discourses which they deemed appropriate 
to the time, and which, if they be impotent as to the de- 
parting traveller's reception in the world whither he goes, 
may at least sustain him in bidding adieu to earth. But, 
though Ilbrahim uttered no complaint, he was disturbed 
by the faces that looked upon him ; so that Dorothy's en- 
treaties and their own conviction that the child's feet might 
tread heaven's pavement and not soil it had induced the 
two Quakers to remove. Ilbrahim then closed his eyes and 
grew calm, and, except for now and then a kind and low 
word to his nurse, might have been thought to slumber. 
As nightfall came on, however, and the storm began to rise, 
something seemed to trouble the repose of the boy's mind 
and to render his sense of hearing active and acute. If a 
passing wind lingered to shake the casement, he strove 


to turn his head toward it ; if the door jarred to and fro 
upon its hinges, he looked long and anxiously thitherward ; 
if the heavy voice of the old man as he read the Scriptures 
rose but a little higher, the child almost held his dying- 
breath to listen ; if a snowdrift swept by the cottage with a 
sound like the trailing of a garment, Ilbrahim seemed to 
watch that some visitant should enter. But after a little 
time he relinquished whatever secret hope had agitated 
him and with one low complaining whisper turned his 
cheek upon the pillow. He then addressed Dorothy with 
his usual sweetness and besought her to draw near him ; she 
did so, and Ilbrahim took her hand in both of his, grasp- 
ing it with a gentle pressure, as if to assure himself that he 
retained it. At intervals, and without disturbing the re- 
pose of his countenance, a very faint trembling passed 
over him from head to foot, as if a mild but somewhat 
cool wind had breathed upon him and made him shiver. 

As the boy thus led her by the hand in his quiet progress 
over the borders of eternity, Dorothy almost imagined that 
she could discern the near though dim delightfulness of the 
home he was about to reach ; she would not have enticed 
the little wanderer back, though she bemoaned herself that 
she must leave him and return. But just when Ilbrahim's 
feet were pressing on the soil of Paradise he heard a voice 
behind him, and it recalled him a few, few paces of the 
weary path which he had travelled. As Dorothy looked 
upon his features she perceived that their placid expres- 
sion was again disturbed. Her own thoughts had been so 
wrapped in him that all sounds of the storm and of human 
speech were lost to her ; but when Catharine's shriek 
pierced through the room, the boy strove to raise himself. 

" Friend, she is come ! Open unto her !" cried he. 

In a moment his mother was kneeling by the bedside ; 
she drew Ilbrahim to her bosom, and he nestled there with 
no violence of joy, but contentedly as if he were hushing 
himself to sleep. He looked into her face, and, reading its 
agony, said with feeble earnestness, 


" Mourn not, dearest mother. I am happv now :" and 
with these words the gentle boyVas dead. 

The king's mandate to stay the New England persecutoi*a 
Was effectual in preventing further martyrdoms, but the co- 
lonial authorities, trusting in the remoteness of their situa- 
tion, and perhajis in the supposed instability of the royal 
government, shortly renewed their severities in all other 
respects. Catharine's fanaticism had become wilder by the 
sundering of all human ties ; and wherever a scourge was 
lifted, there was she to receive the blow ; and whenever a 
dungeon was unbarred, thither she came to cast herself 
upon the floor. But in process of time a more Christian 
spirit — a spirit of forbearance, though not of cordiality or 
approbation — began to pervade the land in regard to the 
persecuted sect. And then, when the rigid old Pilgrims 
eyed her rather in pity than in wrath, when the matrons fed 
her with the fragments of their children's food and offered 
her a lodging on a hard and lowly bed, when no little crowd 
of schoolboys left their sports to cast stones after the roving 
enthusiast, — then did Catharine return to Pearson's dwell- 
ing, and made that her home. 

As if Ilbrahim's sweetness yet lingered round his ashes, 
as if his gentle spirit came down from heaven to teach his 
parent a true religion, her fierce and vindictive nature was 
softened by the same griefs which had once irritated it. 
When the course of years had made the features of the un- 
obtrusive mourner familiar in the settlement, she became a 
subject of not deep but general interest — a being on Avhom the 
otherwise superfluous sympathies of all might be bestowed. 
Every one spoke of her with tliat degree of pity which it is 
pleasant to experience ; every one was ready to do her the lit- 
tle kindnesses which are not costly, yet manifest good-Vv^ill ; and 
when at last she died, a long train of her once bitter persecu- 
tors followed her with decent sadness and tears that were not 
painful to her place by Ilbrahim's green and sunken grave. 


A YOUNG felloT^^ a tobacco-pecller by trade, was on his 
way from Morristown, where he had dealt largely with the 
deacon of the Shaker settlement, to the village of Parker's 
Falls, on Salmon River. He had a neat little cart painted 
green, with a box of cigars depicted on each side-panel, and 
an Indian chief holding a pipe and a golden tobacco-stalk on 
the rear. The pedler drove a smart little mare and was a 
young man of excellent character, keen at a bargain, but none 
the worse liked by the Yankees, who, as I have heard them 
say, would rather be shaved w^ith a sharp razor than a dull 
one. Especially was he beloved by the pretty girls along 
the Connecticut, whose favor he used to court by presents 
of the best smoking-tobacco in his stock, knowing well that 
the country-lasses of New England are generally great per- 
formers on pipes. Moreover, as will be seen in the course 
of my story, the pedler was inquisitive and something of a 
tattler, always itching to hear the news and anxious to tell 
it again. 

After an early breakfast at Morristown the tobacco-ped- 
ler — ^whose name was Dominicus Pike — had travelled seven 
miles through a solitary piece of Avoods without speaking a 
word to anybody but himself and his little gray mare. It 
being nearly seven o'clock, he w^as as eager to hold a morn- 
ing gossip as a city shopkeeper to read the morning paper. 
An opportunity seemed at hand when, after lighting a cigar 
with a sun-glass, he looked up and perceived a man coming 



over the brow of the hill at the foot of vvliich the pedler had 
stopped his green cart. Dominicus watched him as he de- 
scended, and noticed that he carried a bundle over his 
shoulder on the end of a stick and travelled with a weary 
yet determined pace. He did not look as if he had started 
in the freshness of the morning, but had footed it all night, 
and meant to do the same all day. 

" Good-morning, mister," said Dominicus, when within 
speaking-distance. " You go a pretty good jog. What's 
the latest news at Parker's Falls?" 

The man pulled the broad brim of a gray hat over his 
eyes, and answered, rather sullenly, that he did not come 
from Parker's Falls, Avhich, as being the limit of his own 
day's journey, the pedler had naturally mentioned in his 

" Well, then," rejoined Dominicus Pike, " let's have the 
latest news where you did come from. I'm not particular 
about Parker's Falls. Any place will answer." 

Being thus importuned, the traveller — who was as ill- 
looking a fellow as one would desire to meet in a solitary 
piece of woods — appeared to hesitate a little, as if he was 
either searching his memory for news or weighing the ex- 
pediency of telling it. At last, mounting on the step of the 
cart, he whispered in the ear of Dominicus, though he 
might have shouted aloud and no other mortal would 
have heard him. 

" I do remember one little trifle of news," said he. " Old 
Mr. Higginbotham of Kimballton was murdered in his 
orchard at eight o'clock last night by an Irishman and a 
nigger. They strung him up to the branch of a St. 
Michael's pear tree where nobody would find him till the 

As soon as this horrible intelligence was communicated 
the stranger betook himself to his journey again with more 
Bpeed than ever, not even turning his head when Dominicus 


invited him to smoke a Spanish cigar and relate all the par- 
ticulars. The pedler whistled to his mare and went up the 
hill, pondering on the doleful fate of Mr. Higginbotham, 
whom he had known in the way of trade, having sold him 
many a bunch of long nines and a great deal of pig-tail, 
lady's twist and fig tobacco. He was rather astonished at 
the rapidity wdth which the news had spread. Kimball- 
ton was nearly sixty miles distant in a straight line ; the 
murder had been perpetrated only at eight o'clock the pre- 
ceding night, yet Dominicus had heard of it at seven in 
the morning, when, in all probability, poor Mr. Higginboth- 
am 's ow^n family had but just discovered his corpse hang- 
ing on the St. Michael's pear tree. The stranger on foot 
must have worn seven-league boots, to travel at such a 

'^ Ill-news flies fast, they say," thought Dominicus Pike, 
*'' but this beats railroads. The fellow ought to be hired to 
go express with the President's message." 

The difficulty was solved by supposing that the narrator 
had made a mistake of one day in the date of the occur- 
rence ; so that our friend did not hesitate to introduce the 
story at every tavern and country-store along the road, ex- 
pending a whole bunch of Spanish wrappers among at 
least twenty horrified audiences. He found himself in- 
variably the first bearer of the intelligence, and was so 
pestered with questions that he could not avoid filling up 
the outline till it became quite a respectable narrative. He 
met with cne piece of corroborative evidence. Mr. Higgin- 
botham was a trader, and a former clerk of his to whom Do- 
minicus related the facts testified that the old gentleman was 
accustomed to return home through the orchard about 
nightfall with the money and valuable papers of the store 
in his pocket. The clerk manifested but little grief at Mr. 
Higginbotham's catastrophe, hinting — what the pedler had 
discovered in his own dealings with him — that he was a 
crusty old fellow as close as a vise. His property would 


descend to a pretty niece who was now keeping school in 

What with telling the news for the public good and 
driving bargains for his own, Dominicus w^as so much 
delayed on the road that he chose to put up at a tavern 
about five miles short of Parker's Falls. After supper, 
lighting one of his prime cigars, he seated himself in the 
bar-room and went through the story of the murder, which 
had grown so fast that it took him half an hour to tell. 
There were as many as twenty people in the room, nineteen 
of whom received it all for gospel. But the twentieth was 
an elderly farmer who had arrived on horseback a short 
time before and was now seated in a corner, smoking his 
pipe. When the story was concluded, he rose up very 
deliberately, brought his chair right in front of Dominicus 
and stared him full in the face, puffing out the vilest 
tobacco-smoke the pedler had ever smelt. 

"Will you make afiidavit," demanded he, in the tone 
of a country-justice taking an examination, " that old Squire 
Higginbotham of Kimballton was murdered in his orchard 
the night before last and found hanging on his great pear 
tree yesterday morning ?" 

" I tell the story as I heard it, mister," answered Do- 
minicus, dropping his half-burnt cigar. " I don't say that 
I saw the thing done, so I can't take my oath that he was 
murdered exactly in that way." 

" But I can take mine," said the farmer, " that if Squire 
Higginbotham was murdered night before last I drank a 
glass of bitters with his ghost this morning. Being a 
neighbor of mine, he called me into his store as I was 
riding by, and treated me, and then asked me to do a 
little business for him on the road. He didn't seem to 
know any more about his own murder than I did." 

" Why, then it can't be a fact !" exclaimed Dominicus 

" I guess he'd have mentioned, if it was," said the old 


farmer , and lie removed liis chair back to the corner, leav- 
ing Dominicus quite down in the mouth. 

Here was a sad resurrection of old Mr. Higginbotham ! 
The pedler had no heart to mingle in the conversation any 
more, but comforted himself with a glass of gin and water 
and went to bed, where all night long he dreamed of hang- 
ing on the St. Michael's pear tree. 

To avoid the old farmer (whom he so detested that his 
suspension would have pleased him better than Mr. Kiggin- 
botham's), Dominicus rose in the gray of the morning, put 
the little mare into the green cart and trotted swiftly away 
toward Parker's Falls. The fresh breeze, the dewy road 
and the pleasant summer dawn revived his spirits, and 
might have encouraged him to repeat the old story had 
there been anybody awake to hear it, but he met neither 
ox-team, light wagon, chaise, horseman nor foot-traveller 
till, just as he crossed Salmon Kiver, a man came trudging 
down to the bridge with a bundle over his shoulder, on the 
end of a stick. 

" Good-morning, mister," said the pedler, reining in his 
mare. " If you come from Kimballton or that neighbor- 
hood, maybe you can tell me the real fact about this affair 
of old Mr. Higginbotham. Was the old fellow actually 
murdered two or three nights ago by an Irishman and a 
nio-o-er ?" 


Dominicus had spoken in too great a hurry to observe at 
first that the stranger himself had a deep tinge of negro 
blood. On hearing this sudden question the Ethiopian ap- 
peared to change his skin, its yellow hue becoming a ghastly 
white, while, shaking and stammering, he thus replied : 

" No, no ! There was no colored man. It was an Irish- 
man that hanged him last night at eight o'clock ; I came 
away at seven. His folks can't have looked for him in the 
orchard yet." 

Scarcely had the yellow man spoken, when he interrupt- 
ed himself and, though he seemed weary enough before. 


continued his journey at a pace which would have kept the 
pedler's mare on a smart trot. Dominicus stared after him 
in great perplexity. If the murder had not been commit- 
ted till Tuesday night, who was the prophet that had fore- 
told it in ail its circumstances on Tuesday morning ? If 
Mr. Higginbotham's corpse were not yet discovered by 
his own family, how came the mulatto, at above thirty 
miles' distance, to know that he was hanging in the orchard, 
especially as he had left Kimballton before the unfortunate 
man was hanged at all ? These ambiguous circumstances, 
with the stranger's surprise and terror, made Dominicus 
think of raising a hue-and-cry after him as an accomplice 
in the mui'der, since a murder, it seemed, had really been 

" But let the poor devil go," thought the pedler. " I 
don't want his black blood on my head, and hanging the 
nigger wouldn't unhang Mr. Higginbotham. Unhang the 
old gentleman? It's a sin, I knov/, but I should hate 
to have him come to life a second time and give me the 

AVith these meditations Dominicus Pike drove into the 
street of Parker's Falls, which, as everybody knows, is as 
thriving a village as three cotton-factories and a slitting-mill 
can make it. The machinery was not in motion and but a 
few of the shop doors unbarred when he alighted in the 
stable-yard of the tavern and made it his first business to 
order the mare four quarts of oats. His second duty, of 
course, was to impart Mr. Higginbotham's catastrophe to 
the hostler. He deemed it advisable, however, not to be 
too positive as to the date of the direful fact, and also to be 
uncertain whether it were perpetrated by an Irishman and 
a mulatto or by the son of Erin alone. Neither did he 
profess to relate it on his own authority or that of any one 
person, but mentioned it as a report generally diffused. 

The story ran through the town like fire among girdled 
trees, and became so much the universal talk that nobody 

MK. higginbotha:m's CATASTEOPHE. 105 

could tell whence it had originated. Mr. Higginbotham 
was as well known at Parker's Falls as any citizen of the 
place, being part-owner of the slitting-mill and a consider- 
able stockholder in the cotton-factories. The inhabitants 
felt their own prosperity interested in his fate. Such was 
the excitement that the Parker's Falls Gazette anticipated 
its regular day of publication, and came out with half a 
form of blank paper and a column of double pica empha- 
sized with capitals and headed " Horrid Murder of 
Mr. Higgixbotham !" Among other dreadful details, 
the printed account described the mark of the cord round 
the dead man's neck and stated the number of thousand 
dollars of which he had been robbed ; there was much 
pathos, also, about the affliction of his niece, who had gone 
from one fainting-fit to another ever since her uncle was 
found hanging on the St. Michael's pear tree with his 
pockets inside out. The village poet likewise commemo- 
rated the young lady's grief in seventeen stanzas of a ballad. 
The selectmen held a meeting, and in consideration of Mr. 
Higginbotham's claims on the town determined to issue hand- 
bills ofiering a reward of five hundred dollars for the ap- 
prehension of his murderers and the recovery of the stolen 

Meanwhile, the whole population of Parker's Falls, con- 
sisting of shopkeepers, mistresses of boarding-houses, fac- 
tory-girls, mill-men and schoolboys, rushed into the street 
and kept up such a terrible loquacity as more than com- 
pensated for the silence of the cotton-machines, which re- 
frained from their usual din out of respect to the deceased. 
Had Mr. Higginbotham cared about posthumous renown, 
his untimely ghost would have exulted in this tumult. 

Our friend Dominions in his vanity of heart forgot his 
intended precautions, and, mounting on the town-pump, an- 
nounced himself as the bearer of the authentic intelligence 
which had caused so wonderful a sensation. He imme- 
diately became the great man of the moment, and had just 


besiiii a new edition of the narrative with a voice like a 
fieid-preacher when the mail-stage drove into the village 
street. It had travelled all night, and must have shifted 
horses at Kimballton at three in the morning. 

"Now we shall hear all the particulars!" shouted the 

The coach rumbled up to the piazza of the tavern 
followed by a thousand people ; for if any man had been 
minding his own business till then, he now left it at sixes and 
sevens to hear the news. The pedler, foremost in the race, 
discovered two passengers, both of whom had been startled 
from a comfortable nap to find themselves in the centre of 
a mob. Every man assailing them with separate questions, 
all propounded at once, the couple were struck speechless, 
though one was a lawyer and the other a young lady. 

"Mr. Higginbotham ! Mr. Higginbotham ! Tell us the 
particulars about old Mr. Higginbotham!" bavvied the 
mob. " What is the coroner's verdict ? Are the murderers 
apprehended ? Is Mr. Higginbotham 's niece come out of 
her fainting-fits ? Mr. Higginbotham ! Mr. Higginbotham!" 

The coachman said not a word except to swear awfully 
at the hostler for not bringing him a fresh team of horses. 
The lawyer inside had generally his wits about him even 
when asleep ; the first thing he did after learning the cause 
of the excitement was to produce a large red pocketbook. 
Meantime, Dominions Pike, being an extremely polite 
young man, and also suspecting that a female tongue 
would tell the story as glibly as a lawyer's, had handed 
the lady out of the coach. She was a fine, smart girl, now 
wide awake and bright as a button, and had such a sweet, 
pretty mouth that Dominicus would almost as lief have 
heard a love-tale from it. as a tale of murder. 

"Gentlemen and ladies," said the lawyer to the shop- 
keepers, the mill-men and the factory-girls, " I can assure 
you that some unaccountable mistake — or, more probably, a 
wilful falsehood maliciously contrived to injure Mr. Hig- 


ginbotham's credit — has excited this singular uproar. We 
passed through Kimballton at three o'clock this morning, 
and most certainly should have been informed of the mur- 
der had any been perpetrated. But I have proof nearly as 
strong as Mr. Higginbotham's own oral testimony in the 
negative. Here is a note relating to a suit of his in the 
Connecticut courts which was delivered me from that 
gentleman himself. I find it dated at ten o'clock last 

So saying, the lawyer, exhibited the date and signature 
of the note, which irrefragably proved either that this per- 
verse Mr. Higginbotham was alive when he wrote it, or, as 
some deemed the more probable case of two doubtful ones, 
that he was so absorbed in worldly business as to continue 
to transact it even after his death. But unexpected evi- 
dence was forthcoming. The young lady, after listening to 
the pedler's explanation, merely seized a moment to 
smooth her gown and put her curls in order, and then 
appeared at the tavern door, making a modest signal to 
be heard. 

"Good people," said she, "I am Mr. Higginbotham's 

A wondering murmur passed through the crowd on 
beholding her so rosy and bright — that same unhappy 
niece whom they had supposed, on the authority of the 
Parker's Fails Gazette, to be lying at death's door in a 
fainting-fit. But some shrewd fellows had doubted all 
along whether a young lady would be quite so desperate 
at the hanging of a rich old uncle. 

" You see," continued Miss Higginbotham, wdth a smile, 
" that this strange story is quite unfounded as to myself, 
and I believe I may afiirm it to be equally so in regard 
to my dear uncle Higginbotham. He has the kindness to 
give me a home in his house, though I contribute to my own 
support by teaching a school. I left Kimballton this morn- 
ing to spend the vacation of commencement-week with a 


friend about five miles from Parker's Falls. My generous 
uncl6, when he heard me on the stairs, called me to his bed- 
side and gave me two dollars and fifty cents to pay my 
stage-fare, and another dollar for my extra expenses. He 
then laid his pocketbook under his pillow, shook hands with 
me, and advised me to take some biscuit in my bag instead 
of breakfasting on the road. I feel confident, therefore, 
that I left my beloved relative alive, and trust that I shall 
find him so on my return." 

The young lady courtesied at the close of her speech, 
which was so sensible and well worded, and delivered with 
such grace and propriety, that everybody thought her fit to 
be preceptress of the best academy in the State. But a 
stranger would have supposed that Mr. Higginbotham was 
an object of abhorrence at Parker's Falls and that a thanks- 
giving had been proclaimed for his murder, so excessive was 
the wrath of the inhabitants on learning their mistake. 
The mill-men resolved to bestow public honors on Domin- 
icus Pike, only hesitating whether to tar and feather him, 
ride him on a rail or refresh him with an ablution at the 
town-purap, on the top of which he had declared himself 
the bearer of the news. The selectmen, by advice of the 
lawyer, spoke of prosecuting him for a misdemeanor in 
circulating unfounded reports, to the great disturbance of 
the peace of the commonwealth. Nothing saved Domin- 
icus either from mob-law or a court of justice but an elo- 
quent appeal made by the young lady in his behalf 
Addressing a few words of heartfelt gratitude to his 
benefactress, he mounted the green cart and rode out of 
town under a discharge of artillery from the schoolboys, 
who found plenty of ammunition in the neighboring clay- 
pits and mud-holes. As he turned his head to exchange a 
farewell glance with Mr. Higginbotham's niece a ball of 
the consistence of hasty-pudding hit him slap in the mouth, 
giving him a most grim aspect. His whole person was so 
bespattered with the like filthy missiles that he had almost 


a mind to ride back and supplicate for the threatened ablu» 
tion at the town-pump ; for, though not meant in kindness, 
it would now have been a deed of charity. 

However, the sun shone bright on poor Dominicus, and 
the mud — an emblem of all stains of undeserved oppro- 
brium — was easily brushed oft* when dry. Being a funny 
rogue, his heart soon cheered up ; nor could he refrain from 
a hearty laugh at the uproar which his story had excited. 
The handbills of the selectmen would cause the commit- 
ment of all the vagabonds in the State, the paragraph in 
the Parker's Falls Gazette would be reprinted from Maine 
to Florida, and perhaps form an item in the London news- 
papers, and many a miser would tremble for his money- 
bags and life on learning the catastrophe of Mr. Higgin- 
botham. The pedler meditated with much fervor on the 
charms of the young schoolmistress, and swore that Daniel 
Webster never spoke nor looked so like an angel as Miss 
Higginbotham while defending him from the wrathful pop- 
ulace at Parker's Falls. 

Dominicus was now on the Kimballton turnpike, having 
all along determined to visit that place, though business 
had drawn him out of the most direct road from Morris- 
town. As he approached the scene of the supposed murder 
he continued to revolve the circumstances in his mind, and 
w^as astonished at the aspect w^hich the whole case assumed. 
Had nothing occurred to corroborate the story of the first 
traveller, it might now have been considered as a hoax ; 
but the yellow man was evidently acquainted either with 
the report or the fact, and there was a mystery in his dis- 
mayed and guilty look on being abruptly questioned. When 
to this singular combination of incidents it was added that 
the rumor tallied exactly with Mr. Higginbotham's charac- 
ter and habits of life, and that he had an orchard and a St. 
Michael's pear tree, near which he always passed at night- 
fall, the circumstantial evidence appeared so strong that 
Dominicus doubted whether the autograph produced by the 


lawyer, or even the niece's direct testimony, ought to be 
equivalent. Making cautious inquiries along the road, the 
pedler further learned that Mr. Higginbotham had in his 
service an Irishman of doubtful character whom he had 
hired without a recommendation, on the score of economy. 

" May I be hanged myself," exclaimed Dominicus Pike, 
aloud, on reaching the top of a loneJy hill, " if I'll believe 
old Higginbotham is unhanged till I see him with my own 
eyes and hear it from his own mouth. And, as he's a real 
shaver, I'll have the minister, or some other resi^onsible 
man, for an endorser." 

It was growing dusk when he reached the toll-house on 
Kimballton turnpike, about a quarter of a mile from the 
village of this name. His little mare was fast bringing him 
up with a man on horseback who trotted through the gate 
a few rods in advance of him, nodded to the toll-gatherer 
and kept on towards the village. Dominicus was acquainted 
with the toll-man, and while making change the usual re- 
marks on the weather passed between them. 

" I suppose," said the pedler, throwing back his whiplash 
to bring it down like a feather on the mare's flank, " you 
have not seen anything of old Mr. Higginbotham within a 
day or two?" 

" Yes," answered the toll-gatherer ; " he passed the gate 
just before you drove up, and yonder he rides now, if you 
can see him through the dusk. He's been to Woodfield 
this afternoon, attending a sheriff's sale there. The old 
man generally shakes hands and has a little chat with me, 
but to-night he nodded, as if to say, ' Charge my toll/ and 
jogged on ; for, wherever he goes, he must always be at 
home by eight o'clock." 

" So they tell me," said Dominicus. 

" I never saw a man look so yellow and thin as the squire 
does," continued the toll-gatherer. '•' Says I to myself to- 
night, 'He's more like a ghost or an old mummy than good 
flesh and blood.' " 


The pedler strained his eyes through the twilight, and 
could just discern the horseman now far ahead on the village 
road. He seemed to recognize the rear of Mr. Higgin- 
botham, but through the evening shadows and amid the 
dust from the horse's feet the figure appeared dim <i»d un- 
substantial, as if the shape of the mysterious old man were 
faintly moulded of darkness and gray light. 

Dominions shivered. " Mr. Higginbotham has come back 
from the other world by way of the Kimballton turnpike," 
thought he. He shook the reins and rode forward, keeping 
about the same distance in the rear of the gray old shadow 
till the latter was concealed by a bend of the road. On 
reaching this point the pedler no longer saw the man on 
horseback, but found himself at the head of the village 
street, not far from a number of stores and two taverns 
clustered round the meeting-house steeple. On his left was 
a stone wall and a gate, the boundary of a wood-lot beyond 
which lay an orchard, farther still a mowing-field, and last 
^f all a house. These were the premises of Mr. Higgin- 
botham, whose dwelling stood beside the old highway, but 
had been left in the background by the Kimballton turn- 

Dominions knew the place, and the little mare stopped 
short by instinct, for he was not conscious of tightening the 
reins. " For the soul of me, I cannot get by this gate !" 
said he, trembling. " I never shall be my own man agaii}. 
till I see whether Mr. Higginbotham is hanging on the St. 
Michael's pear tree." He leaped from the cart, gave the 
rein a turn round the gate-post, and ran along the green 
path of the wood-lot as if Old Kick were chasing behind. 
Just then the village clock tolled eight, and as each deep 
stroke fell Dominions gave a fresh bound and flew faster 
than before, till, dim in the solitary centre of the orchard, 
he saw the fated pear tree. One great branch stretched 
from the old contorted trunk across the path and threw the 


darkest shadow on that one spot. But something seemed to 
struggle beneath the branch. 

The pedler had never pretended to more courage than 
befits a man of peaceable occupation, nor could he account 
for his valor on this awful emergency. Certain it is, how- 
ever, that he rushed forward, prostrated a sturdy Irishman 
with the butt-end of his whip, and found — not, indeed, hang- 
ing on the St. Michael's pear tree, but trembling beneath it 
with a halter round his neck — the old identical Mr. Higgin- 

"Mr, Higginbotham," said Dominicus, tremulously, 
"you're an honest man, and I'll take your word for it. 
Have you been hanged, or not?" 

If the riddle be not already guessed, a few words will 
explain the simple machinery by which this " coming event '* 
was made to cast its "shadow before." Three men had 
plotted the robbery and murder of Mr. Higginbotham ; two 
of them successively lost courage and fled, each delaying 
the crime one night by their disappearance ; the third was 
in the act of perpetration, when a champion, blindly obey- 
ing the call of fate, like the heroes of old romance, appeared 
in the person of Dominicus Pike. 

It only remains to say that Mr. Higginbotham took the 
pedler into high favor, sanctioned his addresses to the pretty 
schoolmistress and settled his whole property on their chil- 
dren, allowing themselves the interest. In due time the old 
gentleman capped the climax of his favors by dying a 
Cliristian death in bed; since which melancholy event, 
Dominicus Pike has removed from Kimballton and estab- 
lished a large tobacco-manufactory in my native village. 


Ding-dong ! Ding-dong I Ding-dong ! 

The town-crier has rung his bell at a distant corner, and 
little Annie stands on her father's doorsteps trying to hear 
T^hat the man with the loud voice is talking about. Let 
me listen too. Oh, he is telling the people that an elephant 
and a lion and a royal tiger and a horse with horns, and 
other strange beasts from foreign countries, have come to 
town and will receive all visitors who choose to wait upon 
them. Perhaps little Annie would like to go ? Yes, and I 
can see that the pretty child is weary of this wide and 
pleasant street with the green trees flinging their shade 
^across the quiet sunshine and the pavements and the side- 
walks all as clean as if the housemaid had just swept 
them with her broom. She feels that impulse to go stroll- 
ing away — that longing after the mystery of the great 
world — which many children feel, and which I felt in my 
childhood. Little Annie shall take a ramble with me. See ! 
I do but hold out my hand, and like some bright bird in the 
sunny air, with her blue silk frock fluttering upward from 
her white pantalets, she comes bounding on tiptoe across the 

Smooth back your brown curls, Annie, and let me tie on 
your bonnet, and we will set forth. What a strange couple 
to go on their rambles together! One walks in black attire, 
with a measured step and a heavy brow and his thoughtful 
eyes bent down, while the gay little girl trips lightly along 
8 113 


as if she were forced to keep hold of my hand lest her feet 
should dance away from the earth. Yet there is sympathy 
between us. If I pride myself on anything, it is because I 
have a smile that children love ; and, on the other hand, 
there are few grown ladies that could entice me from the 
side of little Annie, for I delight to let my mind go hand 
in hand with the mind of a sinless child. So come, Annie ; 
but if I moralize as we go, do not listen to me : only look 
about you and be merry. 

Now we turn the corner. Here are hacks with two 
horses and stage-coaches with four thundering to meet 
each other, and trucks and carts moving at a slower pace, 
being heavily laden with barrels from the wharves; and 
here are rattling gigs which perhaps will be smashed to 
pieces before our eyes. Hitherward, also, comes a man 
trundling a wheelbarrow along the pavement. Is not 
little Annie afraid of such a tumult ? No ; she does 
not even shrink closer to my side, but passes on with 
fearless confidence, a happy child amidst a great throng 
of grown people who pay the same reverence to her in- 
fancy that they would to extreme qld age. Nobody jostles 
her : all turn aside to make way for little Annie ; and, 
what is most singular, she appears conscious of her claim 
to such respect. Now her eyes brighten with pleasure. A 
street-musician has seated himself on the steps of yonder 
church and pours forth his strains to the busy town — a 
melody that has gone astray among the tramp of footsteps, 
the buzz of voices and the war of passing wheels. Who 
heeds the poor organ-grinder ? None but myself and little 
Annie, whose feet begin to move in unison with the lively 
tune, as if she were loth that music should be wasted with- 
out a dance. But where would Annie find a partner? 
Some have the gout in their toes or the rheumatism in 
their joints ; some are stiff* with age, some feeble with dis- 
ease ; some are so lean that their bones would rattle, and 
others of such ponderous size that their agility would crack 


the flagstones ; but many, many have leaden feet because 
their hearts are far heavier than lead. It is a sad thought 
that I have chanced upon. What a company of dancers 
should we be ! For I too am a gentleman of sober foot- 
steps, and therefore, little Annie, let us walk sedately on. 

It is a question with me whether this giddy child or my 
sage self have most pleasure in looking at the shop-windows. 
We love the silks of sunny hue that glow within the dark- 
ened premises of the spruce dry-goods men ; we are pleas- 
antly dazzled by the burnished silver and the chased gold, 
the rings of wedlock and the costly love-ornaments, glisten- 
ing at the window of the jeweller ; but Annie, more than I, 
seeks for a glimpse of her passing figure in the dusty look- 
ing-glasses at the hardware-stores. All that is bright and 
gay attracts us both. 

Here is a shop to which the recollections of my boyhood 
as well as present partialities give a peculiar magic. How 
delightful to let the fancy revel on the dainties of a confec- 
tioner — those pies with such white and flaky paste, their 
contents being a mystery, whether rich mince with whole 
plums intermixed, or piquant apple delicately rose-flavored ; 
those cakes, heart-shaped or round, piled in a lofty pyramid ; 
those sweet little circlets sweetly named kisses; those dark 
majestic masses fit to be bridal-loaves at the wedding of 
an heiress, mountains in size, their summits deeply snow- 
covered with sugar ! Then the mighty treasures of sugar- 
plums, white and crimson and yellow, in large glass vases, 
and candy of all varieties, and those little cockles — or 
whatever they are called — much prized by children for 
their sweetness, and more for the mottoes which they en- 
close, by love-sick maids and bachelors ! Oh, my mouth 
waters, little Annie, and so doth yours, but we will not be 
tempted except to an imaginary feast ; so let us hasten on- 
ward devouring the vision of a plum-cake. 

Here are pleasures, as some people would say, of a more 
exalted kind, in the window of a bookseller. Is Annie a 


literary lady ? Yes ; she is deeply read in Peter Parley's 
tomes and has an increasing love for fairy-tales, though sel- 
dom met with nowadays, and she will subscribe next year 
to the Juvenile Miscellany. But, truth to tell, she is apt to 
turn away from the printed page and keep gazing at the 
pretty pictures, such as the gay-colored ones which make 
this shop-window the continual loitering-place of children. 
What would Annie think if, in the book which I mean to 
send her on New Year's day, she should find her sweet little 
self bound up in silk or morocco with gilt edges, there to 
remain till she become a woman grown with children of her 
own to read about their mother's childhood ? That would 
be very queer. 

Little Annie is weary of pictures and pulls me onward 
by the hand, till suddenly we pause at the most wondrous 
shop in all the town. Oh, my stars ! Is this a toyshop, or 
is it fairy-land ? For here are gilded chariots in which the 
king and queen of the fairies might ride side by side, while 
their courtiers on these small horses should gallop in trium- 
phal procession before and behind the royal pair. Here» 
too, are dishes of chinaware fit to be the dining-set of those 
same princely personages when they make a regal banquet 
in the stateliest hall of their palace — full five feet high — 
and behold their nobles feasting adown the long perspective 
of the table. Betwixt the king and queen should sit my 
little Annie, the prettiest fairy of them all. Here stands a 
turbaned Turk threatening us with his sabre, like an ugly 
heathen as he is, and next a Chinese mandarin who nods 
his head at Annie and myself. Here we may review a 
whole army of horse and foot in red-and-blue uniforms, 
with drums, fifes, trumpets, and all kinds of noiseless 
music ; they have halted on the shelf of this window after 
their weary march from Liliput. But what cares Annie 
for soldiers ? No conquering queen is she — neither a Semi- 
ramis nor a Catharine ; her whole heart is set upon that doll 
who gazes at us with such a fashionable stare. This is the 


little girl's true plaything. Though made of wood, a doll 
is a visionary and ethereal personage endowed by childish 
fancy with a peculiar life ; the mimic lady is a heroine of 
romance, an actor and a sufferer in a thousand shadowy 
Bcenes, the chief inhabitant of that wild world with which 
children ape the real one. Little Annie does not under- 
stand what I am saying, but looks wishfully at the proud 
lady in the window. We will invite her home with us as 
we return. — Meantime, good-bye, Dame Doll ! A toy your- 
self, you look forth from your window upon many ladies 
that are also toys, though they walk and speak, and upon 
a crowd in pursuit of toys, though they wear grave visages. 
Oh, wdth your never-closing eyes, had you but an intellect 
to moralize on all that flits before them, what a wise doll 
would you be! — Come, little Annie, we shall find toys 
enough, go where we may. 

Now we elbow our way among the throng again. It is 
curious in the most crowded part of a town to meet with 
living creatures that had their birthplace in some far soli- 
tude, but have acquired a second nature in the wilderness 
of men. Look up, Annie, at that canary-bird hanging out 
of the window in his cage. Poor little fellow ! His golden 
feathers are all tarnished in this smoky sunshine ; he would 
have glistened twice as brightly among the summer islands, 
but still he has become a citizen in all his tastes and habits, 
and would not sing half so well without the uproar that 
drowns his music. What a pity that he does not know how 
miserable he is ! There is a joarrot, too, calling out, " Pretty 
Poll ! Pretty Poll !" as we pass by. Foolish bird, to be 
talking about her prettiness to strangers, especially as she 
is not a pretty Poll, though gaudily dressed in green 
and yellow! If she had said "Pretty Annie!" there 
would have been some sense in it. See that gray squirrel 
at the door of the fruit-shop whirling round and round so 
merrily within his wire wheel ! Being condemned to the 


treadmill, he makes it an amusement. Admirable philos- 
ophy ! 

Here comes a big, rough dog — a countryman's dog — in 
search of his master, smelling at everybody's heels and 
touching litile Annie's hand with his cold nose, but hurry- 
ing away, though she would fain have patted him. — Success 
to your search. Fidelity ! — And there sits a great yellow cat 
upon a window-sill, a very corpulent and comfortable cat, 
gazing at this transitory world with owl's eyes, and making 
pithy comments, doubtless, or w^hat appear such, to the silly 
beast. — Oh, sage puss, make room for me beside you, and 
we will be a pair of philosophers. 

Here we see something to remind us of the town-crier 
and his ding-dong-bell. Look ! look at that great cloth 
spread out in the air, pictured all over with wild beasts, as 
if they had met together to choose a king, according to 
their custom in the days of JEsop. But they are choosing 
neither a king nor a President, else we should hear a most 
horrible snarling ! They have come from the deep woods and 
the wild mountains and the desert sands and the j^olar snows 
only to do homage to my little Annie. As we enter among 
them the great elephant makes us a bow in the best style 
of elephantine courtesy, bending lowly down his mountain 
bulk, with trunk abased and leg thrust out behind. Annie 
returns the salute, much to the gratification of the elephant, 
who is certainly the best-bred monster in the caravan. The 
lion and the lioness are busy with two beef-bones. The 
royal tiger, the beautiful, the untamable, keeps pacing his 
narrow cage with a haughty step, unmindful of the specta- 
tors or recalling the fierce deeds of his former life, when he 
was wont to leap forth upon such inferior animals from the 
jungles of Bengal. 

Here we see the very same wolf — do not go near him, 
Annie ! — the selfsame wolf that devoured little Red Riding- 
Hood and her grandmother. In the next cage a hyena from 
Egypt who has doubtless howled around the pyramids and a 


black bear from our own forests are fellow-prisoners and most 
excellent friends. Are there any two living creatures who 
have so few sympathies that they cannot possibly be friends ? 
Here sits a great white bear whom common observers would 
call a very stupid beast, though I perceive him to be only 
absorbed in contemplation ; he is thinking of his voyages 
on an iceberg, and of his comfortable home in the vicinity 
of the north pole, and of the little cubs whom he left rolling 
in the eternal snows. In fact, he is a bear of sentiment. But 
oh those unsentimental monkeys! The ugly, grinning, 
aping, chattering, ill-natured, mischievous and queer little 
brutes ! Annie does not love the monkeys ; their ugliness 
shocks her pure, instinctive delicacy of taste and makes her 
mind unquiet because it bears a wild and dark resemblance 
to humanity. But here is a little pony just big enough for 
Annie to ride, and round and round he gallops in a circle, 
keeping time with his trampling hoofs to a band of music. 
And here, with a laced coat and a cocked hat, and a riding- 
whip in his hand — here comes a little gentleman small enough 
to be king of the fairies and ugly enough to be king of the 
gnomes, and takes a flying leap into the saddle. Merrily, 
merrily plays the music, and merrily gallops the pony, 
and merrily rides the little old gentleman. — Come, Annie, 
into the street again ; perchance we may see monkeys on 
horseback there. 

Mercy on us ! What a noisy world we quiet people live 
in ! Did Annie ever read the cries of London city ? With 
what lusty lungs doth yonder man proclaim that his wheel- 
barrow is full of lobsters ! Here comes another, mounted 
on a cart and blowing a hoarse and dreadful blast from a 
tin horn, as much as to say, "Fresh fish!" And hark! 
a voice on high, like that of a muezzin from the summit 
of a mosque, announcing that some chimney-sweeper has 
emerged from smoke and soot and darksome caverns into 
the upper air. What cares the world for that ? But, well- 
a-day, we hear a shrill voice of affliction — the scream of a 



little child, rising louder with every repetition of that smarts 
sharp, slapping sound produced by an open hand on tender 
flesh. Annie sympathizes, though without exjDerience of 
such direful woe. 

Lo ! the town-crier again, with some new secret for the 
public ear. Will he tell us of an auction, or of a lost pocket- 
book or a show of beautiful wax figures, or of some mon- 
strous beast more horrible than any in the caravan ? I 
guess the latter. See how he uplifts the bell in his right 
hand and shakes it slowly at first, then with a hurried mo- 
tion, till the clapper seems to strike both sides at once, and 
the sounds are scattered forth in quick succession far and 

Ding-dong ! Ding-dong ! Ding-dong ! 

Now he raises his clear loud voice above all the din of 
the town. It drowns the buzzing talk of many tongues and 
draws each man's mind from his own business ; it rolls up 
and down the echoing street, and ascends to the hushed 
chamber of the sick, and penetrates downward to the cellar 
kitchen where the hot cook turns from the fire to listen. 
Who of all that address the public ear, whether in church 
or court-house or hall of state, has such an attentive audi- 
ence as the town-crier ! What saith the people's orator ? 

" Strayed from her home, a little girl of five years 
old, in a blue silk frock and white pantalets, with brown 
curling hair and hazel eyes. Whoever will bring her back 
to her aflSicted mother — " 

Stop, stop, town-crier! The lost is found. — Oh, my 
pretty Annie, we forgot to tell your mother of our ramble, 
and she is in despair and has sent the town-crier to bellow 
up and down the streets, affrighting old and young, for the 
loss of a little girl who has not once let go my hand ? Well, 
let us hasten homeward ; and as we go forget not to thank 
Heaven, my Annie, that after wandering a little way into 
the world you may return at the first summons with an un- 
tainted and unwearied heart, and be a happy child again. 



But I have gone too far astray for the town-crier to call me 

Sweet has been the charm of childhood on my spirit 
throughout my ramble with little Annie. Say not that it 
has been a waste of precious moments, an idle matter, a 
babble of childish talk and a reverie of childish imagina- 
tions about topics unworthy of a grown man's notice. Has 
it been merely this ? Not so — not so. They are not truly 
wise who would affirm it. As the pure breath of children 
revives the life of aged men, so is our moral nature revived 
by, their free and simple thoughts, their native feeling, their 
airy mirth for little cause or none, their grief soon roused 
and soon allayed. Their influence on us is at least recipro- 
cal with ours on them. When our infancy is almost forgot- 
ten and our boyhood long departed, though it seems but as 
yesterday, when life settles darkly down upon us and we 
doubt whether to call ourselves young any more, — then it 
is good to steal away from the society of bearded men, and 
even of gentler woman, and spend an hour or two with chil- 
dren. After drinking from those fountains of still fresh 
existence we shall return into the crowd, as I do now, 
to struggle onward and do our part in life — perhaps as 
fervently as ever, but for a time with a kinder and purer 
heart and a spirit more lightly wise. All this by thy sweet 
magic, dear little Annie ! 



In some old magazine or newspaper I recollect a story, 
told as truth, of a man — let us call him Wakefield — who 
absented himself for a long time from his wife. The fact, 
thus abstractedly stated, is not very uncommon, nor, with- 
out a proper distinction of circumstances, to be condemned 
either as naughty or nonsensical. Howbeit, this, though far 
from the most aggravated, is perhaps the strangest instance 
on record of marital delinquenc}^ and, moreover, as remark- 
able a freak as may be found in the whole list of human 
oddities. The wedded couple lived in London. The man, 
under pretence of going a journey, took lodgings in the next 
street to his own house, and there, unheard of by his wife 
or friends and without the shadow of a reason for such self- 
banishment, dwelt upward of twenty years. During that 
period he beheld his home every day, and frequently the 
forlorn Mrs. Wakefield. And after so great a gap in his 
matrimonial felicity — when his death was reckoned certain, 
his estate settled, his name dismissed from memory and his 
wife long, long ago resigned to her autumnal widowhood — 
he entered the door one evening quietly as from a day's ab- 
sence, and became a loving spouse till death. 

This outline is all that I remember. But the incident, 
though of the purest originality, unexampled, and probably 
never to be repeated, is one, I think, which appeals to the 
general sympathies of mankind. We know, each for him- 
self, that none of us would perpetrate such a folly, yet feel 



as if some other might. To my own contemplations, at 
least, it has often recurred, always exciting wonder, but 
with a sense that the story must be true and a conception 
of its hero's character. Whenever any subject so forcibly 
affects the mind, time is well spent in thinking of it. If the 
reader choose, let him do his own meditation ; or if he pre- 
fer to ramble with me through the twenty years of Wake- 
field's vagary, I bid him welcome, trusting that there will 
be a pervading spirit and a moral, even should we fail to 
find them, done up neatly and condensed into the final sen- 
tence. Thought has always its efficacy and every striking 
incident its moral. 

What sort of a man was Wakefield? We are free to 
shape out our own idea and call it by his name. He was 
now in the meridian of life ; his matrimonial affections, 
never violent, were sobered into a calm, habitual sentiment ; 
of all husbands, he was likely to be the most constant, be- 
cause a certain sluggishness would keep his heart at rest 
wherever it might be placed. He was intellectual, but not 
actively so ; his mind occupied itself in long and lazy mus- 
ings that tended to no purpose or had not vigor to attain 
it ; his thoughts were seldom so energetic as to seize hold of 
words. Imagination, in the proper meaning of the term, 
made no part of AVakefield's gifts. With a cold but not 
depraved nor wandering heart, and a mind never feverish 
with riotous thoughts nor perplexed with originality, who 
could have anticipated that our friend would entitle him- 
self to a foremost place among the doers of eccentric deeds ? 
Had his acquaintances been asked who was the man in 
London the surest to perform nothing to-day which should 
be remembered on the morrow, they would have thought 
of Wakefield. Only the wife of his bosom might have hes- 
itated. She, without having analyzed his character, was 
partly aware of a quiet selfishness that had rusted into his 
inactive mind ; of a peculiar sort of vanity, the most uneasy 
attribute about him ; of a disposition to craft which had 


seldom produced more positive effects than the keeping of 
petty secrets hardly worth revealing ; and, lastly, of what 
she called a little strangeness sometimes in the good man. 
This latter quality is indefinable, and perhaps non-existent. 

Let us now imagine Wakefield bidding adieu to his wife. 
It is the dusk of an October evening. His equipment is a 
drab greatcoat, a hat covered with an oil-cloth, top-boots, 
an umbrella in one hand and a small portmanteau in the 
other. He has informed Mrs. Wakefield that he is to take 
the night-coach into the country. She would fain inquire 
the length of his journey, its object and the probable time 
of his return, but, indulgent to his harmless love of mystery, 
interrogates him only by a look. He tells her not to expect 
him positively by the return-coach nor to be alarmed should 
he tarry three or four days, but, at all events, to look for 
him at supper on Friday evening. Wakefield, himself, be 
it considered, has no suspicion of what is before him. 
He holds out his hand ; she gives her own and meets his 
parting kiss in the matter-of-course way of a ten years' mat- 
rimony, and forth goes the middle-aged Mr. Wakefield, 
almost resolved to perplex his good lady by a whole week's 
absence. After the dcor has closed behind him, she per- 
ceives it thrust partly open and a vision of her husband's 
face through the aperture, smiling on her and gone in a 
moment. For the time this little incident is dismissed 
without a thought, but long afterward, when she has been 
more years a widow than a wife, that smile recurs and flick- 
ers across all her reminiscences of Wakefield's visage. In 
her many musings she surrounds the original smile with a 
multitude of fantasies v/hich make it strange and awful ; as, 
for instance, if she imagines him in a coffin, that parting 
look is frozen on his pale features ; or if she dreams of him 
in heaven, still his blessed spirit wears a quiet and crafty 
smile. Yet for its sake, when all others have given him up 
for dead, she sometimes doubts whether she is a widow. 

But our business is with the husband. We must hurry 


after him along the street ere he lose his individuality and 
melt into the great mass of London life. It would be vain 
searching for him there. Let us follow close at his heels, there- 
fore, until, after several superfluous turns and doublings, 
we find him comfortably established by the fireside of a 
small apartment previously bespoken. He is in the next 
street to his own and at his journey's end. He can scarcely 
trust his good-fortune in having got thither unperceived, 
recollecting that at one time he was delayed by the throng 
in the very focus of a lighted lantern, and again there were 
footsteps that seemed to tread behind his own, distinct from 
the multitudinous tramp around him, and anon he heard a 
voice shouting afar and fancied that it called his name. 
Doubtless a dozen busybodies had been watching him and 
told his wife the whole afiair. 

Poor Wakefield ! little knowest thou thine own insignif- 
icance in this great world. No mortal eye but mine has 
traced thee. Go quietly to thy bed, foolish man, and on 
the morrow, if thou wilt be wise, get thee home to good 
Mrs. Wakefield and tell her the truth. Remove not thy- 
self even for a little week from thy place in her chaste 
bosom. Were she for a single moment to deem thee dead 
or lost or lastingly divided from her, thou wouldst be woefully 
conscious of a change in thy true wife for ever after. It is 
perilous to make a chasm in human afiections — not that 
they gape so long and wide, but so quickly close again. 

Almost repenting of his frolic, or whatever it may be 
termed, Wakefield lies down betimes, and, starting from his 
first nap, spreads forth his arms into the wide and solitary 
waste of the unaccustomed bed, " No," thinks he, gather- 
ing the bedclothes about him ; " I will not sleep alone an- 
other night." In the morning he rises earlier than usual 
and sets himself to consider what he really means to do. 
Such are his loose and rambling modes of thought that he 
has taken this very singular step with the consciousness of a 
purpose, indeed, but without being able to define it sufficiently 


for his own contemplation. The vagueness of the project 
and the convulsive effort with which he plunges into the 
execution of it are equally characteristic of a feeble-minded 
man. Wakefield sifts his ideas, however, as minutely as 
he may, and finds himself curious to know the progress of 
matters at home — how his exemplary wife will endure her 
widowhood of a week, and, briefly, how the little sphere of 
creatures and circumstances in which he was a central 
object will be affected by his removal. A morbid vanity, 
therefore, lies nearest the bottom of the affair. But how is 
he to attain his ends ? Not, certainly, by keeping close in 
this comfortable lodging, where, though he slept and awoke 
in the next street to his home, he is as efiectually abroad as 
if the stage-coach had been whirling him av/ay all night. 
Yet should he reappear, the whole project is knocked in 
the head. His poor brains being hopelessly puzzled with 
this dilemma, he at length ventures out, partly resolving 
to cross the head of the street and send one hasty glance 
toward his forsaken domicile. Habit — for he is a man of 
habits — takes him by the hand and guides him, wholly 
unaware, to his own door, where, just at the critical moment, 
he is aroused by the scraping of his foot upon the step. — 
Wakefield, whither are you going ? 

At that instant his fate was turning on the pivot. Little 
dreaming of the doom to which his first backward step de- 
votes him, he hurries away, breathless with agitation hither- 
to unfelt, and hardly dares turn his head at the distant cor- 
ner. Can it be that nobody caught sight of him ? Will 
not the whole household — the decent Mrs. Wakefield, the 
smart maid-servant and the dirty little footboy — raise a 
hue-and-cry through London streets in pursuit of their 
fugitive lord and master ? Wonderful escape ! He gath- 
ers courage to pause and look homeward, but is perplexed 
with a sense of change about the familiar edifice such as 
affects us all when, after a separation of months or years, 
we again see some hill or lake or work of art with which 


we were friends of old. In ordinary cases this indescrib- 
able impression is caused by the comparison and contrast 
between our imperfect reminiscences and the reality. In 
Wakefield the magic of a single night has wrought a sim- 
ilar transformation, because in that brief period a great 
moral chans^e has been effected. But this is a secret from 
himself. Before leaving the S2:)ot he catches a far and mo- 
mentary glimpse of his wife passing athwart the front win- 
dow with her face turned toward the head of the street. 
The crafty nincompoop takes to his heels, scared with the 
idea that among a thousand such atoms of mortality her 
eye must have detected him. Right glad is his heart, 
though his brain be somewhat dizzy, when he finds himself 
by the coal-fire of his lodgings. 

So much for the commencement of this long whim-wham. 
After the initial conception and the stirring up of the 
man's sluggish temperament to put it in practice, the whole 
matter evolves itself in a natural train. We may suppose 
him, as the result of deep deliberation, buying a new wig 
of reddish hair and selecting sundry garments^ in a fashion 
unlike his customary suit of brown, from a Jew's old-clothes 
bag. It is accomplished : Wakefield is another man. The 
new system being now established, a retrograde movement to 
the old would be almost as difiScult as the step that placed 
him in his unparalleled position. Furthermore, he is 
rendered obstinate by a sulkiness occasionally incident to 
his temper and brought on at present by the inadequate 
sensation which he conceives to have been produced in the 
bosom of Mrs. Wakefield. He will not go back until she 
be frightened half to death. Well, twice or thrice has she 
passed before his sight, each time with a heavier step, a 
paler cheek and more anxious brow, and in the third week 
of his non-appearance he detects a portent of evil entering 
the house in the guise of an apothecary. Next day the 
knocker is mufiled. Toward nightfall comes the chariot 
of a physician and deposits its big-wigged and solemn 


burden at "Wakefield's door, whence after a quarter of an 
hour's visit he emerges, perchance the herald of a funeral. 
Dear woman ! will she die ? 

By this time Wakefield is excited to something like 
energy of feeling, but still lingers aAvay from his wife's 
bedside, pleading with his conscience that she must not be 
disturbed at such a juncture. If aught else restrains him, 
he does not know it. In the course of a few weeks she 
gradually recovers. The crisis is over ; her heart is sad, 
perhaps, but quiet, and, let him return soon or late, it will 
never be feverish for him again. Such ideas glimmer through 
the mist of Wakefield's mind and render him indistinctly 
conscious that an almost impassable gulf divides his hired 
apartment from his former home. "It is but in the next 
street," he sometimes says. Fool ! it is in another world. 
Hitherto he has put off* his return from one particular day 
to another ; henceforward he leaves the precise time unde- 
termined — not to-morrow ; probably next week ; pretty soon. 
Poor man ! The dead have nearly as much chance of re- 
visiting their earthly homes as the self-banished Wake- 

Would that I had a folio to write, instead of an article 
of a dozen pages ! Then might I exemplify how an influ- 
ence beyond our control lays its strong hand on every deed 
which we do and weaves its consequences into an iron tissue 
of necessity. 

Wakefield is spellbound. We must leave him for ten 
years or so to haunt around his house without once crossing 
the threshold, and to be faithful to his wife with all the 
afiTection of which his heart is capable, while he is slowly 
fading out of hers. Long since, it must be remarked, he 
has lost the perception of singularity in his conduct. 

Kow for a scene. Amid the throng of a London street 
we distinguish a man, now waxing elderly, with few cha- 
racteristics to attract careless observers, yet bearing in his 
whole aspect the handwriting of no common fate for such 


as Lave tlie skill to read it. He is meagre ; his low and nar- 
row forehead is deeply wrinkled ; his eyes, small and lustre- 
less, sometimes wander apprehensively about him, but oftener 
seem to look inward. He bends his head and moves with 
an indescribable obliquity of gait, as if unwilling to display 
his full front to the world. Watch him long enough to see 
what we have described, and you will allow that circum- 
stances — which often produce remarkable men from Na- 
ture's ordinary handiwork — have produced one such here. 
Next, leaving him to sidle along the footwalk, cast your 
eyes in the opposite direction, where a portly female con- 
siderably in the wane of life, with a prayer-book in her 
hand, is proceeding to yonder church. She has the placid 
mien of settled widowhood. Her regrets have either died 
away or have become so essential to her heart that they 
would be poorly exchanged for joy. Just as the lean man 
and well-conditioned woman are passing a slight obstruc- 
tion occurs and brings these two figures directly in contact. 
Their hands touch ; the pressure of the crowd forces her 
bosom against his shoulder ; they stand face to face, staring 
into each other's eyes. After a ten years' separation thus 
Wakefield meets his wife. The throng eddies away and 
carries them asunder. The sober widow, resuming her former 
pace, proceeds to church, but pauses in the portal and throws 
a pei'plexed glance along the street. She passes in, however, 
opening her prayer-book as she goes. 

And the man? With so wild a face that busy and 
selfish London stands to gaze after him he hurries to his 
lodgings, bolts the door and throws himself upon the bed. 
The latent feelings of years break out; his feeble mind 
acquires a brief energy from their strength ; all the miser- 
able strangeness of his life is revealed to him at a glance, 
and he cries out passionately, " Wakefield, Wakefield ! You 
are mad !" Perhaps he was so. The singularity of his 
situation must have so moulded him to itself that, consider- 
ed in regard to his fellow-creatures and the business of life, 


he could not be said to possess his right mind. He had 
contrived — or, rather, he had happened — to dissever him- 
self from the world, to vanish, to give wp his place and 
privileges with living men without being admitted among 
the dead. The life of a hermit is nowise parallel to his. 
He was in the bustle of the city as of old, but the crowd 
swept by and saw him not ; he was, we may figuratively 
say, always beside his v;ife and at his hearth, yet must never 
feel the warmth of the one nor the afiection of the other. 
It was Wakefield's unprecedented fate to retain his original 
share of human sympathies and to be still involved in 
human interests, while he had lost his reciprocal influence 
on them. It would be a most curious speculation to trace 
out the efiect of such circumstances on his heart and intel- 
lect separately and in unison. Yet, changed as he was, he 
would seldom be conscious of it, but deem himself the same 
man as ever ; glimpses of the truth, indeed, would come, 
but only for the moment, and still he would keep saying, 
*' I shall soon go back," nor reflect that he had been saying 
so for twenty years. 

I conceive, also, that these twenty years would appear in 
the retrospect scarcely longer than the week to which Wake- 
field had at first limited his absence. He would look on 
the affair as no more than an interlude in the main business 
of his life. When, after a little while more, he should deem 
it time to re-enter his parlor, his wife would clap her hands 
for joy on beholding the middle-aged Mr. Wakefield. Alas, 
what a mistake ! Would Time but await the close of our 
favorite follies, we should be young men — all of us — and 
till Doomsday. 

One evening, in the twentieth year since he vanished, 
Wakefield is taking his customary walk toward the dwell- 
ing which he still calls his own. It is a gusty night of au- 
tumn, with frequent showers that patter down upon the 
pavement and are gone before a man can put up his um- 
brella. Pausing near the house, Wakefield discerns through 


the parlor-windows of the second floor the red glow and the 
glimmer and fitful flash of a comfortable fire. On the ceil- 
ing appears a grotesque shadow of good Mrs. Wakefield. 
The cap, the nose and chin and the broad waist form an 
admirable caricature, which dances, moreover, with the 
up-flickering and down-sinking blaze almost too merrily for 
the shade of an elderly widow. At this instant a shower 
chances to fall, and is driven by the unmannerly gust full 
into Wakefield's face and bosom. He is quite penetrated 
with its autumnal chill. Shall he stand wet and shivering 
here, when his own hearth has a good fire to warm him and 
his own wife will run to fetch the gray coat and small- 
clothes which doubtless she has kept carefully in the closet 
of their bedchamber? No ; Wakefield is no such fool. He 
ascends the steps — heavily, for twenty years have stiffened 
his legs since he came down, but he knows it not. — Stay, 
Wakefield ! Would you go to the sole home that is left you ? 
Then step into your grave. — The door opens. As he passes 
in we have a parting glimpse of his visage, and recognize 
the crafty smile which was the precursor of the little joke 
that he has ever since been playing off* at his wife's expense. 
How unmercifully has he quizzed the poor woman ! Well, 
a good night's rest to AVakefield ! 

This happy event — supposing it to be such — could only 
have occurred at an unpremeditated moment. We will not 
follow our friend across the threshold. He has left us much 
food for thought, a portion of which shall lend its wisdom 
to a moral and be shaped into a figure. Amid the seeming 
confusion of our mysterious world individuals are so nicely 
adjusted to a system, and systems to one another and to a 
whole, that by stepping aside for a moment a man exposes 
himself to a fearful risk of losing his place for ever. Like 
Wakefield, he may become, as it were, the outcast of the 


(Scene, the corner of tivo principal streets,^ the Town-Pump 
talking through its nose.') 

Noon by the north clock ! Noon by the east ! High 
noon, too, by these hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely aslope, 
upon my head and almost make the water bubble and 
smoke in the trough under my nose. Truly, we public 
characters have a tough time of it ! And among all the 
town-officers chosen at March meeting, where is he that sus- 
tains for a single year the burden of such manifold duties 
as are imposed in perpetuity upon the town-pump ? The 
title of " town-treasurer " is rightfully mine, as guardian of 
the best treasure that the town has. The overseers of the 
poor ought to make me their chairman, since I j)rovide 
bountifully for the pauj^er without expense to him that pays 
taxes. I am at the head of the hre department and one of 
the physicians to the board of health. As a keeper of the 
peace all water-drinkers will confess me equal to the con- 
stable. I perform some of the duties of the town-clerk by 
promulgating public notices when they are posted on my 
front. To speak within bounds, I am the chief person of 
the municipality, and exhibit, moreover, an admirable pat- 
tern to my brother-officers by the cool, steady, upright, 
downright and impartial discharge of my business and the 
constancy with which I stand to my post. Summer or win- 

1 Essex and Washington streets, Salem. 



ter, nobody seeks me in vain, for all day long I am seen at 
the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my 
arms to rich and poor alike, and at night I hold a lantern 
over my head both to show where I am and keep people 
out of the gutters. At this sultry noontide I am cupbearer 
to the parched populace, for whose benefit an iron goblet is 
chained to my waist. Like a dramseller on the mall at 
muster-day, I cry aloud to all and sundry in my plainest 
accents and at the very tiptop of my voice. 

Here it is, gentlemen ! Here is the good liquor ! "Walk 
up, walk up, gentlemen ! Walk up, walk up ! Here is the 
superior stuff*! Here is the unadulterated ale of Father 
Adam — better than Cognac, Hollands, Jamaica, strong beer 
or wine of any price ; here it is by the hogshead or the 
single glass, and not a cent to pay ! Walk up, gentlemen, 
walk up, and help yourselves ! 

It were a pity if all this outcry should draw no custom- 
ers. Here they come. — A hot day, gentlemen ! Quaff and 
away again, so as to keep yourselves in a nice cool sweat. — 
You, my friend, will need another cupful to wash the dust 
out of your throat, if it be as thick there as it is on your 
cowhide shoes. I see that you have trudged half a score 
of miles to-day, and like a w^ise man have passed by the 
taverns and stopped at the running brooks and well-curbs. 
Otherwise, betwixt heat without and fire within, you would 
have been burnt to a cinder or melted down to nothing at 
all, in the fashion of a jelly-fish. Drink and make room 
for that other fellow, who seeks my aid to quench the fiery 
fever of last night's potations, which he drained from no 
cup of mine. — Welcome, most rubicund sir! You and I 
have been great strangers hitherto ; nor, to confess the 
truth, will my nose be anxious for a closer intimacy till 
the fumes of your breath be a little less potent. Mercy on 
you, man ! the water absolutely hisses down your red-hot 
gullet and is converted quite to steam in the miniature To- 
phet which you mistake for a stomach. Fill again, and tell 


me, on the word of an honest toper, did you ever, in cellar, 
tavern, or any kind of a dram-shop, spend the price of 
your children's food for a swig half so delicious? Kow, for 
the first time these ten years, you know the flavor of cold 
water. Good-bye ; and whenever you are thirsty, remember 
that I keep a constant supply at the old stand. — Who 
next ? — Oh, my little friend, you are let loose from school 
and come hither to scrub your blooming face and drown 
the memory of certain taps of the ferule, and other school- 
boy troubles, in a draught from the town-pump ? Take it, 
pure as the current of your young life. Take it, and may 
your heart and tongue never be scorched with a fiercer 
thirst than now ! There, my dear child ! put dov/n the cup 
and yield your place to this elderly gentleman who treads 
so tenderly over the paving-stones that I suspect he is 
afraid of breaking them. What ! he limps by without so 
much as thanking me, as if my hospitable offers v/ere meant 
only for people who have no wine-cellars. — Well, well, sir, 
no harm done, I hope ? Go dmw the cork, tip the decan- 
ter ; but when your great toe shall set you a-roaring, it will 
be no afiair of mine. If gentlemen love the pleasant titilla- 
tion of the gout, it is all one to the town-pump. This thirsty 
dog with his red tongue lolling out does not scorn my hos- 
pitality, but stands on his hind legs and laps eagerly out of 
the trough. See how lightly he capere away again ! — Jow- 
ler, did your worehip ever have the gout? 

Are you all satisfied? Then wipe your mouths, my good 
friends, and while my spout has a moment's leisure I will 
delight the town with a few historical remniscences. In 
far antiquity, beneath a darksome shadow of venerable 
boughs, a spring bubbled out of the leaf-strewn earth in the 
very spot where you now behold me on the sunny pavement. 
The water was as bright and clear and deemed as precious 
as liquid diamonds. The Indian sagamores drank of it 
from time immemorial till the fatal deluge of the fire- 


water burst upon the red men and swept their whole race 
away from the cold fountains. Endicott and his follow- 
ers came next, and often knelt down to drink, dipping 
their long beards in the spring. The richest goblet then 
"was of birch-bark. Governor Winthrop, after a journey- 
afoot from Boston, drank here out of the hollow of his hand. 
The elder Higginson here wet his palm and laid it on the 
brow of the first town-born child. For many years it was the 
watering-place, and, as it were, the washbowl, of the vicinity, 
whither all decent folks resorted to purify their visages and 
gaze at them afterward — at least, the pretty maidens did — 
in the mirror which it made. On Sabbath-days, w^henever 
a babe was to be baptized, the sexton filled his basin here 
and placed it on the communion-table of the humble meet- 
ing-house, which partly covered the site of yonder stately 
brick one. Thus one generation after another was conse- 
crated to Heaven by its waters, and cast their waxing and 
waning shadows into its glassy bosom, and vanished from 
the earth, as if mortal life were but a flitting image in a 
fountain. Finally the fountain vanished also. Cellars were 
dug on all sides and cart-loads of gravel flung upon its 
source, whence oozed a turbid stream, forming a mud-pud- 
dle at the corner of two streets. In the hot months, when 
its refreshment was most needed, the dust flew in clouds 
over the forgotten birthplace of the waters, now their grave. 
But in the course of time a town-pump was sunk into the 
source of the ancient spring; and when the first decayed, 
another took its place, and then another, and still another, 
till here stand I, gentlemen and ladies, to serve you with 
my iron goblet. Drink and be refreshed. The w'ater is as 
pure and cold as that which slaked the thirst of the red 
sagamore beneath the aged boughs, though now the gem of 
the wilderness is treasured under these hot stones, where no 
shadow falls but from the brick buildings. And be it the 
moral of my story that, as this wasted and long-lost foun- 
tain is now known and prized again, so shall the virtues of 


cold water — too little valued since your fathers' days — be 
recognized by all. 

Your pardon, good people ! I must interrupt my stream 
of eloquence and spout forth a stream of water to replenish 
the trough for this teamster and his two yoke of oxen, who 
have come from Topsfield, or somewhere along that way. 
No part of my business is pleasanter than the watering of 
cattle. Look ! how rapidly they lower the water-mark on 
the sides of the trough, till their capacious stomachs are 
moistened with a gallon or two apiece and they can afford 
time to breathe it in with sighs of calm enjoyment. Now 
they roll their quiet eyes around the brim of their mon- 
strous drinking-vessel. An ox is your true toper. 

But I perceive, my dear auditors, that you are impatient 
for the remainder of my discourse. Impute it, I beseech 
you, to no defect of modesty if I insist a little longer on so 
fruitful a topic as my own multifarious merits. It is alto- 
gether for your good. The better you think of me, the 
better men and women you will find yourselves. I shall say 
nothing of my all-important aid on washing-days, though 
on that account alone I might call myself the household 
god of a hundred families. Far be it from me, also, to hint, 
my respectable friends, at the show of dirty faces which you 
would present without my pains to keep you clean. Nor 
will I remind you how often, when the midnight bells make 
you tremble for your combustible ioYvn, you have fled to 
the town-pump and found me always at my post firm amid 
the confusion and ready to drain my vital current in your 
behalf. Neither is it worth while to lay much stress on 
my claims to a medical diploma as the physician whose 
simple rule of practice is preferable to all the nauseous lore 
which has found men sick, or left them so, since the days 
of Hippocrates. Let us take a broader view of my bene- 
ficial influence on mankind. 

No ; these are trifles, compared with the merits which 
wise men concede to me — if not in my single self, yet as the 


representative of a class — of being the grand reformer of 
the age. From my spout, and such spouts as mine, must 
flow the stream that shall cleanse our earth of the vast 
portion of its crime and anguish which has gushed from the 
fiery fountains of the still. In this mighty enterprise the 
cow shall be my great confederate. Milk and water — the 
Town-Pump and the Cow ! Such is the glorious copartner- 
ship that shall tear down the distilleries and brewhouses, 
uproot the vineyards, shatter the cider-presses, ruin the tea 
and coffee trade, ajid finally monopolize the whole business 
of quenching thirst. Blessed consummation ! Then Poverty 
shall pass away from the land, finding no hovel so wretched 
where her squalid form may shelter herself. Then Disease, 
for lack of other victims, shall gnaw its own heart and 
die. Then Sin, if she do not die, shall lose half her strength. 
Until now the frenzy of hereditary fever has raged in the 
human blood, transmitted from sire to son and rekindled in 
every generation by fresh draughts of liquid flame. When 
that inward fire shall be extinguished, the heat of passion 
cannot but grow cool, and war — the drunkenness of nations 
— perhaps will cease. At least, there will be no war of 
households. The husband and wife, drinking deep of peace- 
ful joy — a calm bliss of temperate affections — shall pass 
hand in hand through life and lie down not reluctantly at 
its protracted close. To them ,the past will be no turmoil 
of mad dreams, nor the future an eternity of such moments 
as follow the delirium of the drunkard. Their dead faces 
shall express what their spirits were and are to be by a 
lingering smile of memory and hope. 

Ahem ! Dry work, this speechifying, especially to an un- 
practised orator. I never conceived till now what toil the 
temperance lecturers undergo for my sake ; hereafter they 
shall have the business to themselves. — Do, some kind 
Christian, pump a stroke or two, just to wet my whistle. — 
Thank you, sir ! — My dear hearers, whe^ the world shall 
have been regenerated by my instrumentality, you will 


collect jour useless vats and liquor-casks into one great pile 
and make a bonfire in honor of the town-pump. And when 
I shall have decayed like my predecessors, then, if you re- 
vere my memory, let a marble fountain richly sculptured 
take my place upon this spot. Such monuments should be 
erected everywhere and inscribed with the names of the 
distinguished champions of my cause. Now, listen, for 
something very important is to come next. 

There are two or three honest friends of mine — and true 
friends I know they are-— who nevertheless by their fiery 
pugnacity in my behalf do put me in fearful hazard of a 
broken nose, or even a total overthrow upon the pavement 
and the loss of the treasure w^hich I guard. — I pray you, 
gentlemen, let this fp.ult be amended. Is it decent, think 
you, to get tijDsy with zeal for temperance and take up the 
honorable cause of the town-pump in the style of a toper 
fighting for his brandy-bottle ? Or can the excellent quali- 
ties of cold water be no otherwise exemplified than by 
plunging slapdash into hot water and woefully scalding 
yourselves and other people ? • Trust me, they may. In 
the moral warfare which you are to wage — and, indeed, in 
the whole conduct of your lives — you cannot choose a 
better example than myself, who have never permitted the 
dust and sultry atmosphere, the turbulence and manifold 
disquietudes, of the world around me to reach that deep, 
calm well of purity which may be called my soul. And 
whenever I pour out that soul, it is to cool earth's fever or 
cleanse its stains. 

One o'clock ! Nay, then, if the dinner-bell begins to 
speak, I may as well hold my peace. Here comes a pretty 
young girl of my acquaintance with a large stone pitcher 
for me to fill. May she draw a husband while drawing her 
water, as Rachel did of old I — Hold out your vessel, my 
dear ! There it is, full to the brim ; so now run home, 
peeping at your sweet image in the pitcher as you go, and 
forget not in a glass of my own liquor to drink " Success 




At nightfall once in the olden time, on the rugged side 
of one of the Crystal Hills, a party of adventurers were 
refreshing themselves after a toilsome and fruitless quest 
for the Great Carbuncle. They had come thither, not as 
friends nor partners in the enterprise, but each, save one 
youthful pair, impelled by his own selfish and solitary long- 
ing for this wondrous gem. Their feeling of brotherhood, 
however, was strong enough to induce them to contribute a 
mutual aid in building a rude hut of branches and kind- 
ling a great fire of shattered pines that had drifted down 
the headlong current of the Amonoosuck, on the lower 
bank of which they were to pass the night. There was but 
one of their number, perhaps, who had become so estranged 
from natural sympathies by the absorbing spell of the pur- 
suit as to acknowledge no satisfaction at the sight of human 
faces in tha remote and solitary region whither they had 
ascended. A vast extent of wilderness lay between them 
and the nearest settlement, while scant a mile above their 
heads was that bleak verge where the hills throw off their 
shaggy mantle of forest-trees and either robe themselves in 

^ The Indian tradition on which this somewhat extravagant tale is 
founded is both too wild and too beautiful to be adequately wrought 
up in prose. Sullivan, in his history of Maine, written since the 
Revolution, remarks that even then the existence of the Great Car- 
buncle was not entirely disci-edited. 



clouds or tower naked into the sky. The roar of the Amo- 
noosuck would have been too awful for endurance if only 
a solitary man had listened while the mountain-stream talk- 
ed with the wind. 

The adventurers, therefore, exchanged hospitable greet- 
ings and welcomed one another to the hut where each man 
was the host and all were the guests of the whole company. 
They spread their individual supplies of food on the flat 
surface of a rock and partook of a general repast ; at the 
close of which a sentiment of good-fellowship was percepti- 
ble among the party, though repressed by the idea that the re- 
newed search for the Great Carbuncle must make them 
strangers again in the morning. Seven men and one 
young woman, they warmed themselves together at the 
fire, which extended its bright wall along the w^hole front 
of their wigwam. As they observed the various and con- 
trasted figures that made up the assemblage, each man 
looking like a caricature of himself in the unsteady light 
that flickered over him, they came mutually to the conclu- 
sion that an odder society had never met in city or wilder- 
ness, on mountain or plain. 

The eldest of the group — a tall, lean, weatherbeaten man 
some sixty years of age — was clad in the skins of wild an- 
imals whose fashion of dress he did well to imitate, since the 
deer, the wolf and the bear had long been his most inti- 
mate companions. He was one of those ill-fated mortals, 
such as the Indians told of, whom in their early youth the 
Great Carbuncle smote with a peculiar madness and became 
the passionate dream of their existence. All who visited that 
region knew him as " the Seeker," and by no other name. 
As none could remember when he first took up the search, 
there went a fable in the valley of the Saco that for his in- 
ordinate lust after the Great Carbuncle he had been con- 
demned to wander among the mountains till the end of 
time, still with the same feverish hopes at sunrise, the same 
despair at eve. Near this miserable Seeker sat a little elder- 


ly personage wearing a higli-crowned hat shaped somewhat 
like a crucible. He was from beyond the sea — a Doctor Ca- 
caphodel, who had wilted and dried himself into a mummy 
by continually stooping over charcoal-furnaces and inhaling 
unwholesome fumes during his researches in chemistry and 
alchemy. It was told of him —whether truly or not— that 
at the commencement of his studies he had drained his 
body of all its richest blood and wasted it, with other in- 
estimable ingredients, in an unsuccessful experiment, and 
had never been a well man since. Another of the adven- 
turers was Master Ichabod Pigsnort, a weighty merchant 
and selectman of Boston, and an elder of the famous Mr. 
Norton's church. His enemies had a ridiculous story that 
Master Pigsnort was accustomed to spend a whole hour 
after prayer-time every morning and evening in wallowing 
naked among an immense quantity of pine-tree shillings, 
which were the earliest silver coinage of Massachusetts.. 
The fourth whom we shall notice had no name that his 
companions knew of, and was chiefly distinguished by a 
sneer that always contorted his thin visage, and by a 
prodigious pair of spectacles which were supposed to de- 
form and discolor the whole face of nature to this gentle- 
man's perception. The fifth adventurer likewise lacked a 
name, which was the greater pity, as he appeared to be a 
poet. He was a bright-eyed man, but woemlly pined away, 
which was no more than natural if, as some people affirmed, 
his ordinary diet was fog, morning mist and a slice of the 
densest cloud within his reach, sauced with moonshine 
whenever he could get it. Certain it is that the poetry 
which flowed from him had a smack of all these dainties. 
The sixth of the party was a young man of haughty mien 
and sat somewhat apart from the rest, wearing his plumed 
hat loftily among his elders, while the fire glittered on the 
rich embroidery of his dress and gleamed intensely on the 
jewelled pommel of his sword. This was the lord De Yere, 
who when at home was said to spend much of his time 


in the burial-vault of his dead progenitors rummaging 
their mouldy coffins in search of all the earthly pride and 
vainglory that was hidden among bones and dust ; so that, 
besides his own share, he had the collected haughtiness of 
his whole line of ancestry. Lastly, there was a handsome 
youth in rustic garb, and by his side a blooming little per- 
son in whom a delicate shade of maiden reserve was just 
melting into the rich glow of a young wife's affection. Her 
name was Hannah, and her husband's Matthew — two home- 
ly names, yet well enough adapted to the simple pair who 
seemed strangely out of place among the whimsical fra- 
ternity whose wits had been set agog by the Great Car- 

Beneath the shelter of one hut, in the bright blaze of the 
same fire, sat this varied group of adventurers, all so intent 
upon a single object that of whatever else they began to 
speak their closing words were sure to be illuminated with 
the Great Carbuncle. Several related the circumstances 
that brought them thither. One had listened to a trav- 
eller's tale of this marvellous stone in his own distant 
country, and had immediately been seized with such a thirst 
for beholding it as could only be quenched in its intensest 
lustre. Another, so long ago as when the famous Captain 
Smith visited these coasts, had seen it blazing far at sea, 
and had felt no rest in all the intervening years till now 
that he took up the search. A third, being encamped on a 
hunting-expedition full forty miles south of the White 
Mountains, awoke at midnight and beheld the Great Car- 
buncle gleaming like a meteor, so that the shadows of the 
trees fell backward from it. They spoke of the innumerable 
attempts which had been made to reach the spot, and of 
the singular fatality which had hitherto withheld success 
from all adventurers, though it might seem so easy to fol- 
low to its source a light that overpowered the moon and 
almost matched the sun. It was observable that each 
smiled scornfully at the madness of every other in antici- 


pating better fortune than the past, yet nourished a scarcely- 
hidden conviction that he would himself be the favored one. 
As if to allay their too sanguine hopes, they recurred to the 
Indian traditions that a spirit kept watch about the gem 
and bewildered those who sought it either by removing it 
from peak to peak of the higher hills or by calling up a 
mist from the enchanted lake over which it hung. But 
these tales were deemed unworthy of credit, all professing 
to believe that the search had been baffled by want of sa- 
gacity or perseverance in the adventurers, or such other 
causes as might naturally obstruct the passage to any given 
point among the intricacies of forest, valley and mountain. 

In a pause of the conversation the wearer of the prodig- 
ious spectacles looked round upon the party, making each 
individual in turn the object of the sneer which invariably 
dwelt upon his countenance. 

" So, fellow-pilgrims," said he, " here we are, seven wise 
men and one fair damsel, who doubtless is as wise as any 
graybeard of the company. Here we are, I say, all bound 
on the same goodly enterprise. Methinks, now, it were net 
amiss that each of us declare what he proposes to do with 
the Great Carbuncle, provided he have the good hap to 
clutch it. — What says our friend in the bearskin ? How 
mean you, good sir, to enjoy the prize which you have been 
seeking the Lord knows how long among the Crystal 

"How enjoy it!" exclaimed the aged Seeker, bitterly. 
"I hope for no enjoyment from it: that folly has past long 
ago. I keep up the search for this accursed stone because 
the vain ambition of my youth has become a fate upon me 
in old age. The pursuit alone is my strength, the energy 
of my soul, the warmth of my blood and the pith and mar- 
row of my bones. Were I to turn my back upon it, I should 
fall down dead on the hither side of the notch which is the 
gateway of this mountain-region. Yet not to have my 
wasted lifetime back again would I give up my hopes of 



the Great Carbuncle. Having found it, I shall bear it to a 
certain cavern that I wot of, and there, grasping it in my 
arras, lie down and die and keep it buried with me for 

" O wretch regardless of the interests of science," cried 
Doctor Cacaphodel, with philosophic indignation, "thou art 
not worthy to behold even from afar off the lustre of this 
most precious gem that ever was concocted in the labora- 
tory of Nature. Mine is the sole purpose for which a wise 
man may desire the possession of the Great Carbuncle, 
Immediately on obtaining it — for I have a presentiment, 
good people, that the prize is reserved to crown my scien- 
tific reputation — I shall return to Europe and employ my 
remaining years in reducing it to its first elements. A por- 
tion of the stone will I grind to impalpable powder, other 
parts shall be dissolved in acids or whatever solvents will 
act upon so admirable a composition, and the remainder I 
design to melt in the crucible or set on fire with the blow- 
pipe. By these various methods I shall gain an accurate 
analysis, and finally bestow the result of my labors upon 
the world in a folio volume." 

" Excellent !" quoth the man with the spectacles. " Kor 
need you hesitate, learned sir, on account of the necessary 
destruction of the gem, since the perusal of your folio may 
teach every mother's son of us to concoct a Great Carbuncle 
of his own." 

" But verily," said Master Ichabod Pigsnort, " for mine 
own part, I object to the making of these counterfeits, as 
being calculated to reduce the marketable value of the true 
gem. I tell ye frankly, sirs, I have an interest in keeping 
up the price. Here have I quitted my regular traffic, 
leaving my warehouse in the care of my clerks and putting 
my credit to great hazard, and, furthermore, have put my- 
self in peril of death or captivity by the accursed heathen 
savages, and all this without daring to ask the prayers of 
the congregation, because the quest for the Great Carbuncle 



is deemed little better than a traffic witli the evil one. 
Now, think ye that I would have done this grievous wrong 
to my soul, body, reputation and estate without a reason- 
able chance of profit ?" 

" Not I, pious Master Pigsnort," said the man with the 
spectacles. " I never laid such a great folly to thy charge." 

" Truly, I hope not," said the merchant. " Now, as 
touching this Great Carbuncle, I am free to own that I 
have never had a glimpse of it, but, be it only the hundredth 
part so bright as people tell, it will surely outvalue the 
Great Mogul's best diamond, which he holds at an incalcu- 
lable sum ; wherefore I am minded to put the Great Car- 
buncle on shipboard and voyage with it to England, 
France, Spain, Italy, or into heathendom if Providence 
should send me thither, and, in a word, dispose of the gem 
to the best bidder among the potentates of the earth, that 
he may place it among his crown-jewels. If any of ye have 
a wiser plan, let him expound it." 

"That have I, thou sordid man!" exclaimed the poet. 
" Dost thou desire nothing brighter than gold, that thou 
wouldst transmute all this ethereal lustre into such dross as 
thou wallowest in already ? For myself, hiding the jewel 
under my cloak, I shall hie me back to my attic-chamber 
in one of the darksome alleys of London. There night and 
day will I gaze upon it. My soul shall drink its radiance ; 
it shall be diffused throughout my intellectual powers 
and gleam brightly in every line of poesy that I indite. 
Thus long ages after I am gone the splendor of the Great 
Carbuncle will blaze around my name." 

"Well said, Master Poet!" cried he of the spectacles. 
"Hide it under thy cloak, sayest thou? Why, it will 
gleam through the holes and make thee look like a jack- 
o'-lantern !" 

" To think," ejaculated the lord De Vere, rather to him- 
self than his companions, the best of whom he held utterly 
unworthy of his intercourse — " to think that a fellow in a 


tattered cloak sliould talk of conveying the Great Carbun- 
cle to a garret in Grubb street ! Have not I resolved with- 
in myself that the whole earth contains no fitter ornament 
for the great hall of my ancestral castle? There shall it 
flame for ages, making a noonday of midnight, glittering 
on the suits of armor, the banners and escutcheons, that 
hang around the wall, and keeping bright the memory of 
heroes. Wherefore have all other adventurers sought the 
prize in vain but that I might win it and make it a symbol 
of the glories of our lofty line ? And never on the diadem 
of the White Mountains did the Great Carbuncle hold a 
place half so honored as is reserved for it in the hall of the 
De Veres." 

" It is a noble thought," said the cynic, with an obsequi- 
ous sneer. " Yet, might I presume to say so, the gem would 
make a rare sepulchral lamp, and would display the glories 
of Your Lordship's progenitors more truly in the ancestral 
vault than in the castie-hall." 

"Nay, forsooth," observed Matthew, the young rustic, 
who sat hand in hand with his bride, " the gentleman has 
bethought himself of a profitable use for this bright stone. 
Hannah here and I are seeking it for a like purpose." 

"How, fellow?" exclaimed His Lordship, in surprise. 
" What castle-hall hast thou to hang it in ?" 

" No castle," replied INIatthew, " but as neat a cottage as 
any within sight of the Crystal Hills. Ye must know, 
friends, that Hannah and I, being wedded the last week, 
have taken up the search of the Great Carbuncle because 
we shall need its light in the long winter evenings and it 
will be such a pretty thing to show the neighbors when they 
visit us ! It will shine through the house, so that we may 
pick up a pin in any corner, and will set all the windows 
a-glowing as if there were a great fire of pine-knots in the 
chimney. And then how pleasant, w^hen we awake in the 
night, to be able to see one another's faces !" 

There was a general smile among the adventurers at the 


simplicity of the young couple's project in regard to this 
Vv'ondrous and invaluable stone, with which the greatest 
monarch on earth might have been proud to adorn his pal- 
ace. Especially the man with spectacles, who had sneered 
at all the company in turn, now twisted his visage into such 
an expression of ill-natured mirth that Matthew asked him 
rather peevishly what he himself meant to do with the 
Great Carbuncle. 

" The Great Carbuncle !" answered the cynic, with inef- 
fable scorn. " Why, you blockhead, there is no such thing 
in rerum natiird. I have come three thousand miles, and 
am resolved to set my foot on every peak of these moun- 
tains and poke my head into every chasm for the sole pur- 
pose of demonstrating to the satisfaction of any man one 
whit less an ass than thyself that the Great Carbuncle is all 
a humbug." 

Vain and foolish were the motives that had brought most 
of the adventurers to the Crystal Hills, but none so vain, so 
foolish, and so impious too, as that of the scoffer with the 
prodigious spectacles. He was one of those wretched and 
evil men whose yearnings are downward to the darkness 
instead of heavenward, and who, could they but extinguish 
the lights which God hath kindled for us, would count the 
midnight gloom their chiefest glory. 

As the cynic spoke several of the party were startled by 
a gleam of red splendor that showed the huge shapes of the 
surrounding mountains and the rock-bestrewn bed of the 
turbulent river, with an illumination unlike that of their 
fire, on the trunks and black boughs of the forest-trees- 
They listened for the roll of thunder, but heard nothing, 
and were glad that the tempest came not near them. The 
stai*s — those dial-points of heaven — now warned the adven- 
turers to close their eyes on the blazing logs and open them 
in dreams to the glow of the Great Carbuncle. 

The young married couple had taken their lodgings in 
the farthest corner of the wigwam, and were separated from 


the rest of the party bv a curtain of curiously-woven twigs 
such as might have hung in deep festoons around the bri- 
dai-bower of Eve. The modest little wife had wrought this 
piece of tapestry while the other guests were talking. She 
and her husband fell asleep with hands tenderly clasped, 
and awoke from visions of unearthly radiance to meet the 
more blessed light of one another's eyes. They awoke at 
the same instant and with one happy smile beaming over 
their two faces, which grew brighter with their conscious- 
ness of the reality of life and love. But no sooner did she 
recollect where they w ere than the bride peeped through 
the interstices of the leafy curtain and saw that the outer 
room of the hut was deserted. 

" Up, dear Matthew !" cried she, in haste. " The strange 
folk are all gone. JJp this very minute, or we shall lose 
the Great Carbuncle!" 

In truth, so little did these poor young people deserve 
the mighty prize which had lured them thither that they 
had slept peacefully all night and till the summits of the 
hills were glittering with sunshine, while the other adven- 
turers had tossed their limbs in feverish wakefulness or 
dreamed of climbing precipices, and set off to realize their 
dreams with the earliest peep of dawn. But Matthew and 
Hannah after their calm rest were as light as two young 
deer, and merely stopped to say their prayers and wash 
themselves in a cold pool of the Amonoosuck, and then to 
taste a morsel of food ere they turned their faces to the 
mountain-side. It was a sweet emblem of conjugal affec- 
tion as they toiled up the difficult ascent gathering strength 
from the mutual aid which they afforded. 

After several little accidents, such as a torn robe, a lost 
shoe and the entanglement of Hannah's hair in a bough, 
they reached the upper verge of the forest and were now to 
pursue a more adventurous course. The innumerable trunks 
and heavy foliage of the trees had hitherto shut in their 
thoughts, which now shrank affrighted from the region of 


wind and cloud and naked rocks and desolate sunshine that 
rose immeasurably above them. They gazed back at the 
obscure wilderness which they had traversed, and longed 
to be buried again in its depths rather than trust themselves 
to so vast and visible a solitude. 

" Shall we go on ?" said Matthew, throwing his arm round 
Hannah's waist both to protect her and to comfort his heart 
by drawing her close to it. 

But the little bride, simple as she was, had a woman's 
love of jeAvels, and could not forego the hope of possessing 
the very brightest in the world, in spite of the perils with 
which it must be won. 

" Let us climb a little higher," whispered she, yet trem- 
ulously, as she turned her face upward to the lonely sky. 

" Come, then," said Matthew, mustering his manly cour- 
age and drawing her along with him ; for she became timid 
again the moment that he grew bold. 

And upward, accordingly, went the pilgrims of the Great 
Carbuncle, now treading upon the tops and thickly-inter- 
woven branches of dwarf pines which by the growth of 
centuries, though mossy with age, had barely reached 
three feet in altitude. Next they came to masses and 
fragments of naked rock heaped confusedly together like 
a cairn reared by giants in memory of a giant chief. In 
this bleak realm of upper air nothing bi-eathed, nothing 
grew ; there was no life but what was concentred in their two 
hearts ; they had climbed so high that Nature herself seemed 
no longer to keep them company. She lingered beneath 
them within the verge of the forest-trees, and sent a fare- 
well glance after her children as they strayed where her 
own green footprints had never been. But soon they 
wei-e to be hidden from her eye. Densely and dark the 
mists began to gather below, casting black spots of shadow 
on the vast landscape and sailing heavily to one centre, as 
if the loftiest mountain-peak had summoned a council of 
its kindred clouds. Finally the vapors welded themselves, 


as it were, into a mass, presenting the appearance of a pave- 
ment over which the wanderers might have trodden, but 
where they would vainly have sought an avenue to the 
blessed earth which they had lost. And the lovers yearned 
to behold that green earth again — more intensely, alas! 
than beneath a clouded sky they had ever desired a 
glimpse of heaven. They even felt it a relief to their 
desolation when the mists, creeping gradually up the 
mountain, concealed its lonely peak, and thus annihilat- 
ed — at least, for them — the whole region of visible space. 
But they drew closer together with a fond and melancholy 
gaze, dreading lest the universal cloud should snatch them 
from each other's sight. Still, perhaps, they would have 
been resolute to climb as far and as high between earth and 
heaven as they could find foothold if Hannah's strength 
had not begun to fail, and with that her courage also. Her 
breath grew short. She refused to burden her husband 
with her weight, but often tottered against his side, and re- 
covered herself each time by a feebler effort. At last she 
sank down on one of the rocky steps of the acclivity. 

" We are lost, dear Matthew," said she, mournfully ; " we 
shall never find our way to the earth again. And oh how 
happy we might have been in our cottage !" 

''Dear heart, we will yet be happy there," answered 
Matthew. "Look! In this direction the sunshine pene- 
trates the dismal mist ; by its aid I can direct our course 
to the passage of the Notch. Let us go back, love, and 
dream no more of the Great Carbuncle." 

" The sun cannot be yonder," said Hannah, with despond- 
ence. " By this time it must be noon ; if there could ever 
be any sunshine here, it would come from above our heads." 

" But look !" repeated Matthew, in a somewhat altered 
tone. " It is brightening every moment. If not sunshine, 
what can it be ?" 

Nor could the young bride any longer deny that a ra- 
diance was breaking through the mist and changing its 


dim hue to a dusky red, which continually grew more vivid, 
as if brilliant particles were interfused with the gloom. 
Now, also, the cloud began to roll away from the moun- 
tain, while, as it heavily withdrew, one object after another 
started out of its impenetrable obscurity into sight with pre- 
cisely the effect of a new creation before the indistinctness 
of the old chaos had been completely swallowed up. As the 
process went on they saw the gleaming of water close at 
their feet, and found themselves on the very border of a 
mountain-lake, deep, bright, clear and calmly beautiful, 
spreading from brim to brim of a basin that had been 
scooped out of the solid rock. A ray of glory flashed 
across its surface. The pilgrims looked whence it should 
proceed, but closed their eyes, with a thrill of awful 
admiration, to exclude the fervid splendor that glowed 
from the brow of a cliff impending over the enchanted 

For the simple pair had reached that lake of mystery 
and found the long-sought shrine of the Great Carbuncle. 
They threw their arms around each other and trembled at 
their own success, for as the legends of this wondrous gem 
rushed thick upon their memory they felt themselves 
marked out by fate, and the consciousness was fearful. 
Often from childhood upward they had seen it shining 
like a distant star, and now that star was throwing its 
intensest lustre on their hearts. They seemed changed 
to one another's eyes in the red brilliancy that flamed 
upon their cheeks, while it lent the same fire to the lake, 
the rocks and sky, and to the mists which had rolled back 
before its power. But with their next glance they beheld 
an object that drew their attention even from the mighty 
stone. At the base of the cliff, directly beneath the Great 
Carbuncle, appeared the figure of a man with his arms ex- 
tended in the act of climbing and his face turned upward 
as if to drink the full gush of splendor. But he stirred 
not, no more than if chancced to marble. 


" It is the Seeker," whispered Hannah, convulsively grasp- 
ing her husband's arm. " Matthew, he is dead." 

" The joy of success has killed him," replied Matthew, trem- 
bling violently. " Or perhaps the very light of the Great 
Carbuncle was death." 

" ' The Great Carbuncle ' !" cried a peevish voice behind 
them. " The great humbug ! If you have found it, prithee 
point it out to me." 

They turned their heads, and there was the cynic with 
his prodigious spectacles set carefully on his nose, staring 
now at the lake, now at the rocks, now at the distant masses 
of vapor, now right at the Great Carbuncle itself, yet seem- 
ingly as unconscious of its light as if all the scattered clouds 
were condensed about his person. Though its radiance actu- 
ally threw the shadow of the unbeliever at his own feet as 
he turned his. back upon the glorious jewel, he would not be 
convinced that there was the least glimmer there. 

" Where is your great humbug ?" he repeated. " I chal- 
lenge you to make me see it." 

" There !" said Matthew, incensed at such perverse blind- 
ness, and turning the cynic round toward the illuminated 
cliff. " Take off those abominable spectacles, and you can- 
not help seeing it." 

Now, these colored spectacles probably darkened the 
cynic's sight in at least as great a degree as the smoked 
glasses through which people gaze at an eclipse. With reso- 
lute bravado, however, he snatched them from his nose and 
fixed a bold stare full upon the ruddy blaze of the Great 
Carbuncle. But scarcely had he encountered it when, w^ith 
a deep, shuddering groan, he dropped his head and pressed 
both hands across his miserable eyes. Thenceforth there 
was in very truth no light of the Great Carbuncle, nor any 
other light on earth, nor light of heaven itself, for the poor 
cynic. So long accustomed to view all objects through a 
medium that deprived them of every glimpse of brightness, 


a single flash of so glorious a pheEomenon, striking upon 
his naked vision, had blinded him for ever. 

" Matthew," said Hannah, clinging to him, " let us go 

Matthew saw that she was faint, and, kneeling down, sup- 
ported her in his arms while he threw some of the thrillingly- 
cold water of the enchanted lake upon her face and bosom. 
It revived her, but could not renovate her courage. 

"Yes, dearest," cried Matthew, pressing her tremulous 
form to his breast ; "we will go hence and return to our 
humble cottage. The blessed sunshine and the quiet moon- 
light shall come through our window. We will kindle the 
cheerful glow of our hearth at eventide and be happy in its 
light. But never again will we desire more light than all 
the world may share with us." 

" No," said his bride, " for how could we live by day or 
sleep by night in this awful blaze of the Great Carbuncle ?" 

Out of the hollow of their hands they drank each a 
draught from the lake, which presented them its waters 
uncontaminated by an earthly lip. Then, lending their 
guidance to the blinded cynic, who uttered not a word, and 
even stifled his groans in his own most wretched heart, they 
began to descend the mountain. Yet as they left the shore, 
till then untrodden, of the spirit's lake, they threw a fare- 
well glance toward the cliff* and beheld the vapors gather- 
ing in dense volumes, through which the gem burned 

As touching the other pilgrims of the Great Carbuncle, 
the legend goes on to tell that the worshipful Master Ichabod 
Pigsnort soon gave up the quest as a desperate speculation, 
and wisely resolved to betake himself again to his warehouse, 
near the town-dock, in Boston. But as he passed through 
the Notch of the mountains a war-party of Indians captured 
our unlucky merchant and carried him to Montreal, there 
holding him in bondage till by the payment of a heavy 
ransom he had woefully subtracted from his hoard of pine- 


tree shillings. By his long absence, moreover, his afikirs- 
had become so disordered that for the rest of his life, instead 
of wallowing in silver, he had seldom a sixpence-worth of 
copper. Doctor Cacaphodel, the alchemist, returned to his 
laboratory with a prodigious fragment of granite, which he 
ground to powder, dissolved in acids, melted in the crucible 
and burnt with the blowpipe, and published the result of 
his experiments in one of the heaviest folios of the day. 
And for all these purposes the gem itself could not have 
answered better than the granite. The poet, by a some- 
what similar mistake, made prize of a great piece of ice 
which he found in a sunless chasm of the mountains, and 
swore that it corresi^onded in all points with his idea of the 
Great Carbuncle. The critics say that, if his poetry lacked 
the splendor of the gein, it retained all the coldness of the 
ice. The lord De Yere went back to his ancestral hall, 
where he contented himself with a wax-lighted chandelier, 
and filled in due course of time another coffin in the ances- 
tral vault. As the funeral torches gleamed within that dark 
receptacle, there was no need of the Great Carbuncle to 
show the vanity of earthly pomp. 

The cynic, having cast aside his spectacles, wandered 
about the world a miserable object, and was punished with 
an agonizing desire of light for the wilful blindness of his 
former life. The whole night long he would lift his splendor- 
blasted orbs to the moon and stars ; he turned his face east- 
ward at sunrise as duly as a Persian idolater ; he made a 
pilgrimage to Rome to v/itness the magnificent illumination 
of Saint Peter's church, and finally perished in the Great 
Fire of London, into the midst of which he had thrust him- 
self with the desperate idea of catching one feeble ray from 
the blaze that was kindling earth and heaven. 

Matthew and his bride spent many peaceful years and 
were fond of telling the legend of the Great Carbuncle. 
The tale, however, toward the close of their lengthened 
lives, did not meet with the full credence that had been 


accorded to it by those who remembered the ancient lustre 
of the gem. For it is affirmed that from the hour when 
two mortals had shown themselves so simply wise as to reject 
a jewel which would have dimmed all earthly things its 
splendor waned. When our pilgrims reached the cliff, they 
found only an opaque stone with particles of mica glittering 
on its surface. There is also a tradition that as the youthful 
pair departed the gem was loosened from the forehead of 
the cliff and fell into the enchanted lake, and that at noon- 
tide the Seeker's form may still be seen to bend over its 
quenchless gleam. 

Some few believe that this inestimable stone is blazing as 
of old, and say that they have caught its radiance, like a 
flash of summer lightning, far down the valley of the Saco. 
And be it owned that many a mile from the Crystal Hills 
I saw a wondrous light around their summits, and was lured 
by the faith of poesy to be the latest pilgrim of the Great 


" But this painter !" cried Walter Ludlow, with anima- 
tion. " He not only excels in his peculiar art, but possesses 
vast acquirements in all other learning and science. He 
talks Hebrew with Dr. Mather and gives lectures in 
anatomy to Dr. Boylston. In a word, he will meet the 
best-instructed man among us on his ow^n ground. More- 
over, he is a polished gentleman, a citizen of the world — 
yes, a true cosmopolite ; for he will speak like a native of 
each clime and country on the globe, except our own for- 
ests, whither he is now going. Nor is all this what I most- 
admire in him." 

" Indeed !" said Elinor, who had listened with a women's 
interest to the description of such a man. "Yet this is 
admirable enough." 

" Surely it is," replied her lover, " but far less so than his 
natural gift of adapting himself to every variety of cha- 
racter, insomuch that all men — and all women too, Elinor — 
shall find a mirror of themselves in this wonderful painter. 
But the greatest wonder is yet to be told." 

" Nay, if he have more wonderful attributes than these," 
said Elinor, laughing, " Boston is a perilous abode for the 
poor gentleman. Are you telling me of a painter, or a 
"wizard ?" 

" In truth," answered he, " that question might be asked 

^This story was suggested by an anecdote of Stuart related in 
Bunlap's History of the Arts of Designs — a most entertaining book to 
the general reader, and a deeply-interesting one, we should think, to 
the artist. 



much more seriously than you suppose. They say that he 
paints not merely a man's features, but his mind and heart. 
He catches the secret sentiments and passions and throws 
them upon the canvas like sunshine, or perhaps, in the por- 
traits of dark-souled men, like a gleam of infernal fire. It 
is an awful gift," added Walter, lowering his voice from its 
tone of enthusiasm. " I shall be almost afraid to sit to 

" Walter, are you in earnest ?" exclaimed Elinor. 

" For Heaven's sake, dearest Elinor, do not let him paint 
the look which you now wear," said her lover, smiling, 
though rather perplexed. " There ! it is passing away now ; 
but when you spoke, you seemed frightened to death, and 
very sad besides. What were you thinking of?" 

" Nothing, nothing !" answered Elinor, hastily. " You paint 
my face with your own fantasies. Well, come for me to- 
morrow, and we will visit this wonderful artist." 

But when the young man had departed, it cannot be 
denied that a remarkable expression was again visible on 
the fair and youthful face of his mistress. It was a sad 
and anxious look, little in accordance with what should 
have been the feelings of a maiden on the eve of wedlock. 
Yet Walter Ludlow was the chosen of her heart. 

" A look !" said Elinor to herself " No wonder that it 
startled him if it expressed what I sometimes feel. I know 
by my own experience how frightful a look may be. But 
it was all fancy. I thought nothing of it at the time ; I 
have seen nothing of it since ; I did but dream it ;" and 
she busied herself about the embroidery of a ruff in which 
she meant that her portrait should be taken. 

The painter of whom they had been speaking was not one 
of those native artists who at a later period than this borrowed 
their colors from the Indians and manufactured their pencils 
of the furs of wild beasts. Perhaps, if he could have revoked 
his life and prearranged his destiny, he might have chosen to 
belong to that school without a master in the hope of being 


at least original, since there were no works of art to imitate 
nor rules to follow. But lie had been born and educated 
in Europe. People said that he had studied the grandeur 
or beauty of conception and every touch of the master- 
hand in all the most famous pictures in cabinets and galle- 
ries and on the walls of churches till there was nothing 
more for his powerful mind to learn. Art could add noth- 
ing to its lessons, but Nature might. He had, therefore, 
visited a world whither none of his professional brethren 
had preceded him, to feast his eyes on visible images that 
were noble and picturesque, yet had never been transferred 
to canvas. America w^as too jDOor to afford other tempta- 
tions to an artist of eminence, though many of the colonial 
gentry on the painter's arrival had expressed a wish to 
transmit their lineaments to posterity by means of his skill. 
Whenever such proposals were made, he fixed his piercing 
eyes on the applicant and seemed to look him through 
and through. If he beheld only a sleek and comfortable 
visage, though there were a gold-laced coat to adorn the 
picture and golden guineas to pay for it, he civilly rejected 
the task and the reward ; but if the face were the index of 
anything uncommon in thought, sentiment or experience, or 
if he met a beggar in the street with a white beard and 
a furrowed brow, or if sometimes a child happened to look 
up and smile, he would exhaust all the art on them that he 
denied to wealth. 

Pictorial skill being so rare in the colonies, the painter 
became an object of general curiosity. If few or none 
could appreciate the technical merit of his productions, yet 
there were points in regard to which the opinion of the 
crowd was as valuable as the refined judgment of the ama- 
teur. He watched the effect that each picture produced on 
such untutored beholders, and derived profit from their 
remarks, while they would as soon have thought of instruct- 
ing Nature herself as him who seemed to rival her. Their 
admiration, it must be owned, was tinctured with the 


prejudices of the age and country. Some deemed it an 
offence against the Mosaic law, and even a presumptuous 
mockery of the Creator, to bring into existence such lively 
images of his creatures. Others, frightened at the art 
which could raise phantoms at will and keep the form of 
the dead among the living, were inclined to consider the 
painter as a magician, or perhaps the famous Black Man of 
old witch-times plotting mischief in a new guise. These 
foolish fancies were more than half believed among the 
mob. Even in superior circles his character was invested 
with a vague awe, partly rising like smoke-wreaths from 
the popular superstitions, but chiefly caused by the varied 
knowledge and talents which he made subservient to his 

Being on the eve of marriage, Walter Ludlow and Elinor 
were eager to obtain their portraits as the first of what, 
they doubtless hoped, would be a long series of family 
pictures. The day after the conversation above recorded 
they visited the painter's rooms. A servant ushered them 
into an apartment where, though the artist himself was not 
visible, there were personages whom they could hardly for- 
bear greeting with reverence. They knew, indeed, that the 
whole assembly were but pictures, yet felt it impossible to 
separate the idea of life and intellect from such striking 
counterfeits. Several of the portraits were known to them 
either as distinguished characters of the day or their private 
acquaintances. There was Governor Burnett, looking as if 
he had just received an undutiful communication from the 
House of Representatives and were inditing a most sharp 
response. Mr. Cooke hung beside the ruler whom he 
opposed, sturdy and somewhat puritanical, as befitted a 
popular leader. The ancient lady of Sir William Phipps 
eyed them from the wall in ruff and farthingale, an impe- 
rious old dame not unsuspected of witchcraft. John Wins- 
low, then a very young man, wore the expression of war- 
like enterpise which long afterward made him a distin- 


guislied general. Their personal friends were recognized 
at a glance. In most of the pictures the whole mind and 
character were brought out on the countenance and con- 
centrated into a single look ; so that, to speak paradoxi- 
cally, the originals hardlv resembled themselves so strik- 
ingly as the portraits did. 

Amonsr these modern worthies there were two old bearded 
saints who had almost vanished into the darkening canvas. 
There was also a pale but unfaded Madonna who had per- 
haps been worshipped in Rome, and now regarded the 
lovers with such a mild and holy look that they longed to 
worship too. 

"How singular a thought," observed Walter Ludlow, 
*' that this beautiful face has been beautiful for above two 
hundred years ! Oh, if all beauty would endure so well I 
Do you not envy her, Elinor?" 

" If earth were heaven, I might," she replied. " But, 
where all things fade, how miserable to be the one that 
could not fade!" 

" This dark old St. Peter has a fierce and ugly scowl, 
saint though he be," continued Walter ; " he troubles me. 
But the Virgin looks kindly at us." 

" Yes, but very sorrowfully, methinks," said Elinor. 

The easel stood beneath these three old ^^ictures, sustain- 
ing one that had been recently commenced. After a little 
inspection they began to recognize the features of their own 
minister, the Rev. Dr. Colman, growing into shape and life, 
as it were, out of a cloud. 

" Kind old man 1" exclaimed Elinor. " He gazes at me 
as if he were about to utter a word of paternal advice." 

" And at me," said Walter, " as if he were about to shake 
his head and rebuke me for some suspected iniquity. But 
so does the original. I shall never feel quite comfortable 
under his eye till we stand before him to be married." 

They now heard a footstep on the floor, and, turning, 
beheld the painter, who had been some moments in the 


room and had listened to a few of their remarks. He was 
a middle-aged man with a countenance well worthy of his 
own pencil. Indeed, by the picturesque though careless 
arrangement of his rich dress, and perhaps because his soul 
dwelt always among painted shapes, he looked somewhat 
like a portrait himself. His visitors were sensible of a 
kindred between the artist and his works, and felt as if one 
of the pictures had stepped from the canvas to salute them. 

Walter Ludlow, who was slightly known to the painter, 
explained the object of their visit. AVhile he spoke a sun- 
beam was falling athwart his figure and Elinor's with so 
happy an effect that they also seemed living pictures of 
youth and beauty gladdened by bright fortune. The artist 
was evidently struck. 

" My easel is occupied for several ensuing days, and ray 
stay in Boston must be brief," said he, thoughtfully ; then, 
after an observant glance, he added, " But your wishes 
shall be gratified though I disappoint the chief-justice and 
Madame Oliver. I must not lose this opportunity for the 
sake of painting a few ells of broadcloth and brocade." 

The painter expressed a desire to introduce both their por- 
traits into one picture and represent them engaged in some 
appropriate action. This plan would have delighted the 
lovers, but was necessarily rejected because so large a space 
of canvas would have been unfit for the room which it was 
intended to decorate. Two half-length portraits were there- 
fore fixed upon. After they had taken leave, Walter Lud- 
low asked Elinor, with a smile, whether she knew what an 
influence over their fates the painter was about to acquire. 

" The old women of Boston affirm," continued he, " that 
after he has once got possession of a person's face and figure 
he may paint him in any act or situation whatever, and the 
picture will be prophetic. Do you believe it ?" 

" Not quite," said Elinor, smiling. " Yet if he has such 
magic, there is something so gentle in his manner that I am 
sure he will use it well." 


It was the painter's choice to proceed with both the por- 
traits at the same time, assigning as a reason, in the mysti- 
cal language which he sometimes used, that the faces threw 
light upon each other. Accordingly, he gave now a touch 
to Walter and noAV to Elinor, and the features of one and 
the other began to start forth so vividly that it appeared as 
if his triumphant art would actually disengage them from 
the canvas. Amid the rich light and deep shade they be- 
held their phantom selves, but, though the likeness promised 
to be perfect, they were not quite satisfied with the expres- 
sion : it seemed more vague than in most of the painter's 
works. He, however, was satisfied witli the prospect of 
success, and, being much interested in the lovers, employed 
his leisure moments, unknown to them, in making a crayon 
sketch of their two figures. During their sittings he engaged 
them in conversation and kindled up their faces with cha- 
racteristic traits, which, though continually varying, it was 
his purpose to combine and fix. At length he announced 
that at their next visit both the portraits would be ready 
for delivery. 

"If my pencil will but be true to my conception in the 
few last touches which I meditate," observed he, " these two 
pictures will be my very best performances. Seldom indeed 
has an artist such subjects." While speaking he still bent 
his penetrative eye upon them, nor withdrew it till they 
had reached the bottom of the stairs. 

Nothing in the whole circle of human vanities takes 
stronger hold of the imagination than this affair of having 
a portrait painted. Yet why should it be so ? The look- 
ing-glass, the polished globes of the andirons, the mirror- 
like water, and all other reflecting surfaces, continually pre- 
sent us with portraits — or, rather, ghosts — of ourselves 
which we glance at and straightway forget them. But we 
forget them only because they vanish. It is the idea of 
duration — of earthly immortality — that gives such a mys- 
terious interest to our own portraits. 


Walter and Elinor were not insensible to this feeling, and 
hastened to the painter's room punctually at the appointed 
hour to meet those pictured shapes which were to be their 
representatives with posterity. The sunshine flashed after 
them into the apartment, biit left it somewhat gloomy as 
they closed the door. Their eyes were immediately attracted 
to their portraits, which rested against the farthest wall of 
the room. At the first glance through the dim light and 
the distance, seeing themselves in precisely their natural 
attitudes and with all the air that they recognized so well, 
they uttered a simultaneous exclamation of delight. 

" There we stand," cried Walter, enthusiastically, " fixed 
in sunshine for ever. No dark passions can gather on our 

"No," said Elinor, more calmly; "no dreary change 
can sadden us." 

This was said while they were approaching and had yet 
gained only an imperfect view of the pictures. The painter, 
after saluting them, busied himself at a table in completing 
a crayon sketch, leaving his visitors to form their own 
judgment as to his perfected labors. At intervals he sent 
a glance from beneath his deep eyebrows, watching their 
countenances in profile with his pencil suspended over the 
sketch. They had now stood some moments, each in front 
of the other's picture, contemplating it with entranced at- 
tention, but without uttering a word. At length Walter 
stepped forward, then back, viewing Elinor's portrait in 
various lights, and finally spoke. 

" Is there not a change ?" said he, in a doubtful and med- 
itative tone. " Yes ; the perception of it grows more vivid 
the longer I look. It is certainly the same picture that I 
saw yesterday; the dress, the features, all are the same, 
and yet something is altered." 

"Is, then, the picture less like than it was yesterday?" 
inquired the painter, now drawing near with irrepressible 


" The features are perfect Elinor," answered Walter, "and 
at the first glance the expression seemed also hers ; but I 
could fancy that the portrait has changed countenance while 
I have been looking at it. The eyes are fixed on mine with 
a strangely sad and anxious expression. Nay, it is grief 
and terror. Is this like Elinor ?" 

" Compare the living face with the pictured one," said 
the painter. 

Walter glanced sidelong at his mistress, and started. 
Motionless and absorbed, fascinated, as it were, in contem- 
plation of Walter's portrait, Elinor's face had assumed pre- 
cisely the expression of which he had just been complaining. 
Had she practised for whole hours before a mirror, she 
could not have caught the look so successfully. Had the 
picture itself been a mirror, it could not have thrown back 
her present aspect with stronger and more melancholy truth. 
She appeared quite unconscious of the dialogue between the 
artist and her lover. 

"Elinor," exclaimed Walter, in amazement, "what change 
has come over you ?" 

She did not hear him nor desist from her fixed gaze till 
he seized her hand, and thus attracted her notice ; then with' 
a sudden tremor she looked from the picture to the face of 
the original. 

" Do you see no change in your portrait ?" asked she. 

" In mine ? None," replied Walter, examining it. " But 
let me see. Yes; there is a slight change — an improve- 
ment, I think, in the picture, though none in the likeness. 
It has a livelier expression than yesterday, as if some bright 
thought were flashing from the eyes and about to be uttered 
from the lipSo Now that I have caught the look, it becomes 
very decided." 

While he was intent on these observations Elinor turned 
to the painter. She regarded him with grief and awe, and 
felt that he repaid her with sympathy and commiseratioUj 
though wherefore she could but vaguely guess. 


"That look!" whispered she, and shuddered. "How 
came it there?" 

" Madam," said the painter, sadly, taking her hand and 
leading her apart, " in both these pictures I have painted 
what I saw. The artist — the true artist — must look beneath 
the exterior. It is his gift — his proudest, but often a mel- 
ancholy one — to see the inmost soul, and by a power inde- 
finable even to himself to make it glow or darken upon the 
canvas in glances that express the thought and sentiment 
of years. Would that I might convince myself of error in 
the present instance !" 

They had now approached the table, on which were heads 
in chalk, hands almost as expressive as ordinary faces, ivied 
church -towers, thatched cottages, old thunder-stricken trees, 
Oriental and antique costume, and all such picturesque va- 
garies of an artist's idle moments. Turning them over with 
seeming carelessness, a crayon sketch of two figures was 

" If I have failed," continued he — " if your heart does 
not see itself reflected in your own portrait, if you have no 
secret cause to trust my delineation of the other — it is not 
yet too late to alter them. I might change the action of these 
figures too. But would it influence the event?" He directed 
her notice to the sketch. 

A thrill ran through Elinor's frame ; a shriek was upon 
her lips, but she stifled it with the self-command that be- 
comes habitual to all who hide thoughts of fear and anguish 
within their bosoms. Turning from the table, she perceived 
that "Walter had advanced near enough to have seen the 
sketch, though she could not determine whether it had 
caught his eye. 

"We will not have the pictures altered," said she, 
hastily. " If mine is sad, I shall but look the gayer for 
the contrast." 

" Be it so," answered the painter, bowing. " May your 
griefs be such fanciful ones that only your pictures may 


mourn for them ! For your joys, may they be true and 
deep, and paint themselves upon this lovely face till it quite 
belie my art!" 

After the marriage of Walter and Elinor the pictures 
formed the two most splendid ornaments of their abode. 
They hung side by side, separated by a narrow panel, ap- 
pearing to eye each other constantly, yet always returning 
the gaze of the sj^ectator. Travelled gentlemen who pro- 
fessed a knowledge of such subjects reckoned these among 
the most admirable specimens of modern portraiture, while 
common observers compared them with the originals, fea- 
ture by feature, and were rapturous in praise of the likeness. 
But it was on a third class — neither travelled connoisseurs 
nor common observers, but people of natural sensibility — 
that the pictures wrought their strongest effect. Such per- 
sons might gaze carelessly at first, but, becoming interested, 
would return day after day and study these painted faces 
like the pages of a mystic volume. Walter Ludlow's por- 
trait attracted their earliest notice. In the absence of him- 
self and his bride they sometimes disputed as to the expres- 
sion which the painter had intended to throw upon the 
features, all agreeing that there was a look of earnest im- 
port, though no two explained it alike. There was less 
diversity of opinion in regard to Elinor's picture. They 
differed, indeed, in their attempts to estimate the nature 
and depth of the gloom that dwelt upon her face, but agreed 
that it was gloom and alien from the natural temperament 
of their youthful friend. A certain fanciful person an- 
nounced as the result of much scrutiny that both these pic- 
tures were parts of one design, and that the melancholy 
strength of feeling in Elinor's countenance bore reference 
to the more vivid emotion — or, as he termed it, the wild 
passion — in that of Walter. Though unskilled in the art, 
he even began a sketch in which the action of the two fig- 
ures was to correspond with their mutual expression. 

It was whispered among friends that day by day Elinor's 


face was assuming a deeper shade of pensiveness which 
threatened soon to render her too true a counterpart of her 
melancholy picture. Walter, on the other hand, instead of 
acquiring the vivid look which the painter had given him 
on the canvas, became reserv^ed and downcast, with no out- 
ward flashes of emotion, however it might be smouldering 
within. In course of time Elinor hung a gorgeous curtain 
of purple silk wrought with flowers and fringed with heavy 
golden tassels before the pictures, under pretence that the 
dust would tarnish their hues or the light dim them. It was 
enough. Her visitors felt that the massive folds of the silk 
must never be withdrawn nor the portraits mentioned in 
her presence. 

Time wore on, and the painter came again. He had been 
far enough to the north to see the silver cascade of the 
Ciystal Hills, and to look over the vast round of cloud and 
forest from the summit of New England's loftiest moun- 
tain. But he did not profane that scene by the mockery of 
his art. He had also lain in a canoe on the bosom of Lake 
George, making his soul the mirror of its loveliness and 
grandeur till not a picture in the Vatican was more vivid 
than his recollection. He had gone with the Indian hunt- 
ers to Niagara, and there, again, had flung his hopeless 
pencil down the precipice, feeling that he could as soon 
paint the roar as aught else that goes to make up the 
wondrous cataract. In truth, it was seldom his impulse to 
copy natural scenery except as a framework for the delin- 
eations of the human form and face instinct with thought, 
passion or suffering. With store of such his adventurous 
ramble had enriched him. The stern dignity of Indian 
chiefs, the dusky loveliness of Indian girls, the domestic 
life of wigwams, the stealthy march, the battle beneath 
gloomy pine trees, the frontier fortress with its garrison, the 
anomaly of the old French partisan bred in courts, but 
grown gray in shaggy deserts, — such were the scenes and 
portraits that he had sketched. The glow of perilous mo- 


ments, flashes of wild feeling, struggles of fierce power, 
love, hate, grief, frenzy — in a word, all the worn-out heart 
of the old earth — had been revealed to him under a new 
form. His portfolio was filled with graphic illustrations of 
the volume of his memory which genius would transmute 
into its own substance and imbue with immortality. He 
felt that the deep wisdom in his art which he had sought so 
far was found. 

But amid stern or lovely nature, in the perils of the 
forest or its overwhelming peacefulness, still there had been 
two phantoms, the companions of his way. Like all other 
men around whom an engrossing purpose wreathes itself, 
lie was insulated from the mass of humankind. He had no 
aim, no pleasure, no sympathies, but what were ultimately 
connected with his art. Though gentle in manner and up- 
right in intent and action, he did not possess kindly feelings ; 
his heart was cold : no living creature could be brought near 
enough to keep him warm. For these two beings, however, 
he had felt in its greatest intensity the sort of interest which 
always allied him to the subjects of his pencil. He had pried 
into their souls with his keenest insight and pictured the result 
upon their features with his utmost skill, so as barely to fall 
short of that standard which no genius ever reached, his 
own severe conception. He had caught from the duskiness 
of the future — at least, so he fancied — a fearful secret, and 
had obscurely revealed it on the portraits. So much of 
himself — of his imagination and all other powers — had been 
lavished on the study of Walter and Elinor that he almost 
regarded them as creations of his own, like the thousands 
with which he had peopled the realms of Picture. There- 
fore did they flit through the twilight of the woods, hover 
on the mist of waterfalls, look forth from the mirror of the 
lake, nor melt away in the noontide sun. They haunted his 
pictorial fancy, not as mockeries of life nor pale goblins of 
the dead, but in the guise of portraits, each with an unalter- 
able expression which his magic had evoked from the caverns 


of the soul. He could not recross the Atlantic till he had 
again beheld the originals of those airy pictures. 

" O glorious Art !" Thus mused the enthusiastic painter 
as he trod the street. " Thou art the image of the Creator's 
own. The innumerable forms that wander in nothingness 
start into being at thy beck. The dead live again ; thou 
recallest them to their old scenes and givest their gray 
shadows the lustre of a better life, at once earthly and im- 
mortal. Thou snatchest back the fleeing moments of his- 
tory. With thee there is no past, for at thy touch all that 
is great becomes for ever present, and illustrious men live 
through long ages in the visible performance of the very 
deeds which made them what they are. O potent Art! 
as thou bringest the faintly-revealed past to stand in that 
narrow strip of sunlight which we call ' now,' canst thou 
summon the shrouded future to meet her there? Have I not 
achieved it ? Am I not thy prophet ?" 

Thus with a proud yet melancholy fervor did he almost 
cry aloud as he passed through the toilsome street among 
people that knew not of his reveries nor could understand 
nor care for them. It is not good for man to cherish a soli- 
tary ambition. Unless there be those around him by w^hose 
example he may regulate himself, his thoughts, desires and 
hopes will become extravagant and he the semblance — 
perhaps the reality — of a madman. Reading other bosoms 
with an acuteness almost preternatural, the painter failed to 
see the disorder of his own. 

" And this should be the house," said he, looking up and 
down the front before he knocked. " Heaven help my 
brains! That picture! Methinks it will never vanish. 
Whether I look at the windows or the door, there it is 
framed within them, painted strongly and glowing in the 
richest tints — the faces of the portraits, the figures and 
action of the sketch !" 

He knocked. 

"The portraits- -are they within?" inquired he of the 


domestic ; then, recollecting himself, " Your master and 
mistress — are they at home?" 

" They are, sir," said the servant, adding, as he noticed 
that picturesque aspect of which the painter could never 
divest himself, " and the portraits too." 

The guest was admitted into a parlor con:imunicating by 
a central door with an interior room of the same size. As 
the first apartment was empty, he passed to the entrance of 
the second, within which his eyes were greeted by those liv- 
ing personages, as well as their pictured representatives, 
who had long been the objects of so singular an interest. 
He involuntarily paused on the threshold. 

They had not perceived his approach. Walter and 
Elinor were standing before the portraits, whence the 
former had just flung back the rich and voluminous folds 
of the silken curtain, holding its golden tassel with one 
hand, while the other grasped that of his bride. The 
pictures, concealed for months, gleamed forth again in un- 
diminished splendor, appearing to throw a sombre light 
across the room rather than to be disclosed by a borrowed 
radiance. That of Elinor had been almost prophetic. A 
pensiveuess, and next a gentle sorrow, had successively 
dwelt upon her countenance, deepening vrith the lapse of 
time into a quiet anguish. A mixture of affright would 
now have made it the very expression of the portrait. 
Walter's face was moody and dull or animated only by 
fitful flashes which left a heavier darkness for their mo- 
mentary illumination. He looked from Elinor to her por- 
trait, and thence to his own, in the contemplation of which 
he finally stood absorbed. 

The painter seemed to hear the step of Destiny ap- 
proaching behind him on its progress toward its victims. 
A strange thought darted into his mind. Was not his own 
the form in which that Destiny had embodied itself, and 
he a chief agent of the coming evil which he had fore- 
shadowed ? 


Still, Walter remained silent before the picture, commun- 
ing with it as with his own heart and abandoning himself 
to the spell of evil influence that the painter had cast upon 
the features. Gradually his eyes kindled, while as Elinor 
watched the increasing wildness of his face her own as- 
sumed a look of terror; and when, at last, he turned 
upon her, the resemblance of both to their portraits was 

" Our fate is upon us !" howled Walter. " Die i" 

Drawing a knife, he sustained her as she was sinking to 
the ground, and aimed it at her bosom. In the action and 
in the look and attitude of each the painter beheld the 
figures of his sketch. The picture, with all its tremendous 
coloring, was finished. 

" Hold, madman !" cried he, sternly. 

He had advanced from the door and interposed himself 
between the wretched beings with the same sense of power 
to regulate their destiny as to alter a scene upon the can- 
vas. He stood like a magician controlling the phantoms 
which he had evoked. 

" ^Vhat !" muttered Walter Ludlow as he relapsed from 
fierce excitement into sullen gloom. " Does Fate impede 
its own decree?" 

" Wretched lady," said the painter, " did I not warn 

" You did," replied Elinor, calmly, as her terror gave 
place to the quiet grief which it had disturbed. " But I 
loved him." 

Is there not a deep moral in the tale ? Could the result 
of one or all our deeds be shadowed forth and set before us, 
some would call it fate and hurry onward, others be swept 
along by their passionate desires, and none be turned aside 
by the prophetic pictures. 



We can be but partially acquainted even with tbe events 
whicli actually influence our course through life and our 
final destiny. There are innumerable other events, if such 
they may be called, which come close upon us, yet pass 
away without actual results or even betraying their near 
approach by the reflection of any light or shadow across 
our minds. Could we know all the vicissitudes of our for- 
tunes, life would be too full of hope and fear, exultation or 
disappointment, to aflbrd us a single hour of true serenity. 
This idea may be illustrated by a page from the secret his- 
tory of David Swan. 

We have nothing to do with David until we find him, at 
the age of twenty, on the high road from his native place 
to the city of Boston, where his uncle, a small dealer in the 
grocery line, was to take him behind the counter. Be it 
enough to say that he was a native of New Hampshire, 
born of respectable parents, and had received an ordinary 
school education with a classic finish by a year at Gilman- 
ton Academy. After journeying on foot from sunrise till 
nearly noon of a summer's day, his weariness and the in- 
creasing heat determined him to sit down in the first con- 
venient shade and await the coming up of the stage-coach. 
As if planted on purpose for him, there soon appeared a 
little tuft of maples with a delightful recess in the midst, 
and such a fresh bubbling spring that it seemed never to 



have sparkled for any wayfarer but David Swan. Virgin 
or not, he kissed it with his thirsty lips and then flung him- 
self along the brink, pilloAving his head upon some shirts 
and a pair of pantaloons tied up in a striped cotton hand- 
kerchief. The sunbeams could not reach him; the dust 
did ^ot yet rise from the road after the heavy rain of yes- 
terday, and his grassy lair suited the young man better than 
a bed of down. The spring murmured drowsily beside him ; 
the branches waved dreamily across the blue sky overhead, 
and a deep sleep, perchance hiding dreams within its depths, 
fell upon David Swan. But we are to relate events which 
he did not dream of. 

While he lay sound asleep in the shade other people were 
wide awake, and passed to and fro, afoot, on horseback and 
in all sorts of vehicles, along the sunny road by his bed- 
chamber. Some looked neither to the right hand nor the 
left and knew not that he was there ; some merely glanced 
that way without admitting the slumberer among their busy 
thoughts ; some laughed to see how soundly he slept, and 
several whose hearts were brimming full of scorn ejected 
their venomous superfluity on David Swan. A middle-aged 
widow, when nobody else was near, thrust her head a little 
way into the recess, and vowed that the young fellow looked 
charming in his sleep. A temperance lecturer saw him, 
and wrought poor David into the texture of his evening's 
discourse as an awful instance of dead drunkenness by the 

But censure, praise, merriment, scorn and indifference 
were all one — or, rather, all nothing — to David Swan. He 
had slept only a few moments when a brown carriage drawn 
by a handsome pair of horses bowled easily along and was 
brought to a standstill nearly in front of David's rest- 
ing-place. A linch-pin had fallen out and permitted one 
of the wheels to slide off! The damage vras slight and oc- 
casioned merely a momentary alarm to an elderly merchant 
and his wife, who were returning to Boston in the carriage. 


While the coachman and a servant were replacing the 
wheel the lady a^nd gentleman sheltered themselves beneath 
the maple trees, and there espied the bubbling fountain and 
David Swan asleep beside it. Impressed with the awe 
which the humblest sleeper usually sheds around him, the 
merchant trod as lightly as the gout would allow, and his 
spouse took good heed not to rustle her silk gown lest David 
should start up all of a sudden. 

" How soundly he sleeps !" whispered the old gentleman. 
" From what a depth he draws that easy breath ! Such 
sleep as that, brought on without an opiate, would be worth 
more to me than half my income, for it would suppose health 
and an untroubled mind." 

" And youth besides," said the lady. " Healthy and quiet 
age does not sleep thus. Our slumber is no more like his 
than our wakefulness." 

The longer they looked, the more did this elderly couple 
feel interested in the unknown youth to whom the wayside 
and the maple shade were as a secret chamber with the rich 
gloom of damask curtains brooding over him. Perceiving 
that a stray sunbeam glimmered down upon his face, the 
lady contrived to twist a branch aside so as to intercept it, 
and, having done this little act of kindness, she began to feel 
like a mother to him. 

" Providence seems to have laid him here," whispered she 
to her husband, " and to have brought us hither to find him, 
after our disappointment in our cousin's son. Methinks I 
can see a likeness to our departed Henry. Shall we waken 

" To what purpose ?" said the merchant, hesitating. " We 
know nothing of the youth's character." 

" That open countenance !" replied his wife, in the same 
hushed voice, yet earnestly. " This innocent sleep !" 

While these whispers were passing, the sleeper's heart did 
not throb, nor his breath become agitated, nor his features 
betray the least token of interest. Yet Fortune was bend- 


ing over him, just ready to let fall a burden of gold. The 
old merchant had lost his only son, and Inid no heir to his 
wealth except a distant relative with whosc conduct he was 
dissatisfied. In such cases people sometimes do stranger 
things than to act the magician and awaken a young man 
to splendor who fell asleep in poverty. 

" Shall we not waken him ?" repeated the lady, persua- 

" The coach is ready, sir," said the servant, behind. 

The old couple started, reddened and hurried away, mu- 
tually wondering that they should ever have dreamed of 
doing anything so very ridiculous. The merchant threw 
himself back in the carriage and occupied his mind with 
the plan of a magnificent asylum for unfortunate men of 
business. Meanwhile, David Swan enjoyed his nap. 

The carriage could not have gone above a mile or two 
when a pretty young girl came along with a tripping pace 
which showed precisely how her little heart was dancing in 
her bosom. Perhaps it was this merry kind of motion that 
caused — is there any harm in saying it ? — her garter to slip 
its knot. Conscious that the silken girth — if silk it were — 
was relaxing its hold, she turned aside into the shelter of 
the maple trees, and there found a young man asleep by 
the spring. Blushing as red as any rose that she should 
have intruded into a gentleman's bedchamber, and for such 
a purpose too, she was about to make her escape on tiptoe. 
But there was peril near the sleeper. A monster of a bee 
had been wandering overhead — buzz, buzz, buzz — now 
among the leaves, now flashing through the strips of sun- 
shine, and now lost in the dark shade, till finally he ap- 
peared to be settling on the eyelid of David Swan. The 
sting of a bee is sometimes deadly. As free-hearted as she 
was innocent, the girl attacked the intruder with her hand- 
kerchief, brushed him soundly and drove him from beneath 
the maple shade. How sweet a picture ! This good deed 
accomplished, with quickened breath and a deeper blush 


she stole a glance at the youthful stranger for whom she 
had been battling with a dragon in the air. 

" He is handsome !" thought she, and blushed redder yet. 

How could it be that no dream of bliss grew so strong 
within him that, shattered by its very strength, it should 
part asunder and allow him to perceive the girl among its 
phantoms ? AVhy, at least, did no smile of welcome brighten 
upon his face ? She was come, the maid whose soul, accord- 
ing to the old and beautiful idea, had been severed from his 
own, and whom in all his vague but passionate desires he 
yearned to meet. Her only could he love with a perfect 
love, him only could she receive into the depths of her 
heart, and now her image was faintly blushing in the foun- 
tain by his side ; should it pass away, its happy lustre would 
never gleam upon his life again. 

" How sound he sleeps ! " murmured the girl. She de- 
parted, but did not trip along the road so lightly as when 
she came. 

Now, this girl's father was a thriving country merchant 
in the neighborhood, and happened at that identical time 
to be looking out for just such a young man as David 
Swan. Had David formed a wayside acquaintance with 
the daughter, he would have become the father's clerk, and 
all else in natural succession. So here, again, had good for- 
tune — the best of fortunes — stolen so near that her gar- 
ments brushed against him, and he knew nothing of the 

The girl was hardly out of sight when two men turned 
aside beneath the maple shade. Both had dark faces set 
off by cloth caps, which were drawn down aslant over their 
brows. Their dresses were shabby, yet had a certain smart- 
ness. These were a couple of rascals who got their living 
by vrhatever the devil sent them, and now, in the interim 
of other business, had staked the joint profits of their next 
piece of villainy on a game of cards which was to have 
been decided here under the trees. But, finding David 


asleep by the spring, one of the rogues whispered to his 
fellow : 

" Hist ! Do' you see that bundle under his head ?" 

The other villain nodded, winked and leered. 

" I'll bet you a horn of brandy," said the first, " that the 
chap has either a pocketbook or a snug little hoard of small 
change stowed away amongst his shirts. And if not there, 
we will find it in his pantaloons pocket." 

" But how if he wakes ?" said the other. 

His companion thrust aside his waistcoat, pointed to the 
handle of a dirk and nodded. 

"So be it!" muttered the second villain. 

They approached the unconscious David, and, while one 
pointed the dagger toward his heart, the other began to 
search the bundle beneath his head. Their two faces, grim, 
wrinkled and ghastly wdth guilt and fear, bent over their 
victim, looking horrible enough to be mistaken for fiends 
should he suddenly awake. Nay, had the villains glanced 
aside into the spring, even they would hardly have known 
themselves as reflected there. But David Swan had never 
worn a more tranquil aspect, even when asleej) on his 
mother's breast. 

" I must take away the bundle," whispered one. 

" If he stirs, I'll strike," muttered the other. 

But at this moment a dog scenting along the ground came 
in beneath the maple trees and gazed alternately at each of 
these wicked men and then at the quiet sleeper. He then 
lapped out of the fountain. 

" Pshaw !" said one villain. " We can do nothing now. 
The dog's master must be close behind." 

" Let's take a drink and be off," said the other. 

The man with the dagger thrust back the weapon into 
his bosom and drew forth a pocket-pistol, but not of that 
kind which kills by a single discharge. It was a flask of 
liquor with a block-tin tumbler screwed upon the mouth. 
Each drank a comfortable dram, and left the spot with so 


many jests and such laughter at their unaccomplished 
wickedness that they might be said to have gone on their 
way rejoicing. In a few hours they had forgotten the whole 
affair, nor once imagined that the recording angel had writ- 
ten down the crime of murder against their souls in letters 
as durable as eternity. As for David Swan, he still slept 
quietly, neither conscious of the shadow of death when it 
hung over him nor of the glow of renewed life when that 
shadow was withdrawn. He slept, but no longer so quietly 
as at first. An hour's repose had snatched from his elastic 
frame the weariness with which many hours of toil had bur- 
dened it. Now he stirred, now moved his lips without a 
sound, now talked in an inv;ard tone to the noonday spectres 
of his dream. But a noise of wheels came rattling louder 
and louder along the road, until it dashed through the dis- 
persing mist of David's slumber ; and there was the stage- 
coach. He started up with all his ideas about him. 

" Halloo, driver ! Take a passenger ?" shouted he. 

" Room on top !" answered the driver. 

Up mounted David, and bowled away merrily toward 
Boston without so much as a parting glance at that foun- 
tain of dreamlike vicissitude. He knew not that a phan- 
tom of Wealth had thrown a golden hue upon its waters, 
nor that one of Love had sighed softly to their murmur, 
nor that one of Death had threatened to crimson them with 
his blood, all in the brief hour since he lay down to sleep. 
Sleeping or waking, we hear not the airy footsteps of the 
strange things that almost happen. Does it not argue a 
superintending Providence that, while viewless and unex- 
pected events thrust themselves continually athwart our 
path, there should still be regularity enough in mortal life 
to render foresight even partially available? 


So ! I have climbed high, and my reward is small. Here 
I stand v;''h wearied knees — earth, indeed, at a dizzy depth 
below, but heaven far, far beyond me still. Oh that I could 
soar up into the very zenith, where man never breathed nor 
eagle ever flew, and where the ethereal azure melts away 
from the eye and appears only a deepened shade of noth- 
ingness ! And yet I shiver at that cold and solitary thought. 
What clouds are gathering in the golden west with direful 
intent against the brightness and the warmth of this sum- 
mer afternoon? They are ponderous air-ships, black as 
death and freighted with the tempest, and at intervals 
their thunder — the signal-guns of that unearthly squadron 
— rolls distant along the deep of heaven. These nearer 
heaps of fleecy vapor — methinks I could roll and toss 
upon them the whole day long — seem scattered here and 
there for the repose of tired pilgrims through the sky. 
Perhaps — for who can tell? — beautiful spirits are disport- 
ing themselves there, and will bless my mortal eye with 
the brief appearance of their curly locks of golden light 
and laughing faces fair and faint as the people of a rosy 
dream. Or where the floating mass so imperfectly ob- 
structs the color of the firmament a slender foot and 
fairy limb resting too heavily upon the frail support 
may be thrust through and suddenly withdrawn, while 
longing fancy follows them in vain. Yonder, again, is 
an airy archipelago where the sunbeams love to linger in 
their journey ings through space. Every one of those little 



clouds has been dipped and steeped in radiance which the 
slightest pressure might disengage in silvery profusion like 
water wrung from a sea-maid's hair. Bright they are as a 
young man's visions, and, like them, would be realized in 
chillness, obscurity and tears. I will look on them no more. 

In three parts of the visible circle whose centre is this 
spire I discern cultivated fields, villages, white country- 
seats, the waving lines of rivulets, little placid lakes, and 
here and there a rising ground that would fain be termed a 
hill. On the fourth side is the sea, stretching away toward 
a viewless boundary, blue and calm except where the pass- 
ing anger of a shadow flits across its surface and is gone. 
Hitherward a broad inlet penetrates far into the land ; on 
the verge of the harbor formed by its extremity is a town, 
and over it am I, a watchman, all-heeding and unheeded. 
Oh that the multitude of chimneys could speak, like those 
of Madrid, and betray in smoky whispers the secrets of all 
who since their first foundation have assembled at the 
hearths within ! Oh that the Limping Devil of Le Sage 
would perch beside me here, extend his wand over this 
contiguity of roofs, uncover every chamber and make me 
familiar with their inhabitants ! The most desirable mode 
of existence might be that of a spiritualized Paul Pry hov- 
ering invisible round man and woman, witnessing their deeds, 
searching into their hearts, borrowing brightness from their 
felicity and shade from their sorrow, and retaining no emo- 
tion peculiar to himself But none of these things are pos- 
sible ; and if I would know the interior of brick walls or the 
mystery of human bosoms, I can but guess. 

Yonder is a fair street extending north and south. The 
stately mansions are placed each on its carpet of verdant 
grass, and a long flight of steps descends from every door 
to the pavement. Ornamental trees — the broadleafed 
horse-chestnut, the elm so lofty and bending, the graceful 
but infrequent willow, and others whereof I know not the 
names — grow thrivingly among brick and stone. The ob- 


lique rays of the sun are intercepted by these green citizens 
and by the houses, so that one side of the street is a shaded 
and pleasant walk. On its whole extent there is now but a 
single passenger, advancing from the upper end, and he, 
unless distance and the medium of a pocket spyglass do him 
more than justice, is a fine young man of twenty. He 
saunters slowly forward, slapping his left hand with his 
folded gloves, bending his eyes upon the pavement, and 
sometimes raising them to throw a glance before him. Cer- 
tainly he has a pensive air. Is he in doubt or in debt ? Is 
he — if the question be allowable — in love ? Does he strive 
to be melancholy and gentlemanlike, or is he merely over- 
come by the heat ? But I bid him farewell for the present. 
The door of one of the houses — an aristocratic edifice with 
curtains of purple and gold waving from the w^indows — is 
now opened, and do^Yn the steps come two ladies swinging 
their parasols and lightly arrayed for a summer ramble. 
Both are young, both are pretty ; but methinks the left- 
hand lass is the fairer of the twain, and, though she be so 
serious at this moment, I could swear that there is a treas- 
ure of gentle fun within her. They stand talking a little 
while upon the steps, and finally proceed up the street. 
Meantime, as their faces are now turned from me, I may 
look elsewhere. 

Upon that wharf and down the corresponding street is a 
busy contrast to the quiet scene which I have just noticed. 
Business evidently has its centre there, and many a man is 
wasting the summer afternoon in labor and anxiety, in los- 
ing riches or in gaining them, when he would be wiser to 
flee away to some pleasant country village or shaded lake 
in the forest or wild and cool sea-beach. I see vessels un- 
lading at the wharf and precious merchandise strown upon 
the ground abundantly as at the bottom of the sea — that 
market whence no goods return, and where there is no cap- 
tain nor supercargo to render an account of sales. Here 
the clerks are diligent with their paper and pencils and 


sailors ply the block and tackle that hang over the hold, 
accompanymg their toil with cries long-drawn and roughly 
melodious till the bales and puncheons ascend to upper air. 
At a little distance a group of gentlemen are assembled 
round the door of a warehouse. Grave seniors be they, and 
I would wager — if it were safe, in these times, to be respon- 
sible for any one — that the least eminent among them might 
vie with old Vincentio, that incomparable trafficker of Pisa. 
I can even select the wealthiest of the company. It is the 
elderly personage in somewhat rusty black, with powdered 
hair the superfluous whiteness of which is visible upon the 
cape of his coat. His twenty ships are wafted on some of 
their many courses by every breeze that blows, and his 
name, I will venture to say, though I know it not, is a 
familiar sound among the far-separated merchants of Europe 
and the Indies. 

But I bestow too much of my attention in this quarter. 
On looking again to the long and shady walk I perceive 
that the two fair girls have encountered the young man. 
After a sort of shyness in the recognition, he turns back 
with them. Moreover, he has sanctioned my taste in regard 
to his companions by placing himself on the inner side of 
the pavement, nearest the Yenus to whom I, enacting on a 
steeple-top the part of Paris on the top of Ida, adjudged 
the golden apple. 

In two streets converging at right angles toward my 
watch-tower I distinguish three different processions. One 
is a proud array of voluntary soldiers in bright uniform, re- 
sembling, from the height whence I look down, the painted 
veterans that garrison the windows of a toy-shop. And yet 
it stirs my heart. Their regular advance, their nodding 
plumes, the sun-flash on their bayonets and musket-barrels, 
the roll of their drums ascending past me, and the fife ever 
and anon piercing through, — these things have wakened a 
warlike fire, peaceful though I be. Close to their rear 
marches a battalion of schoolboys ranged in crooked and 


irregular platoons, shouldering sticks, thumping a harsh and 
unripe clatter from an instrument of tin and ridiculously 
aping the intricate manoeuvres of the foremost band. Never- 
theless, as slight differences are scarcely perceptible from a 
church-spire, one might be tempted to ask, " Which are the 
boys?" or, rather, " AYhich the men?" But, leaving these, 
let us turn to the third procession, which, though sadder in 
outward show, may excite identical reflections in the thought- 
ful mind. It is a funeral — a hearse drawn by a black and 
bony steed and covered by a dusty pall, two or three coaches 
rumbling over the stones, their drivers half asleep, a dozen 
couple of careless mourners in their every-day attire. Such 
was not the fashion of our fathers when they carried a friend 
to his grave. There is now no doleful clang of the bell to 
proclaim sorrow to the town. Was the King of Terrors 
more awful in those days than in our own, that wisdom and 
philosophy have been able to produce this change ? Not so. 
Here is a proof that he retains his proper majesty. The 
military men and the military boys are wheeling round the 
corner, and meet the funeral full in the face. Immediately 
the drum is silent, all but the tap that regulates each sim- 
ultaneous footfall. The soldiers yield the path to the dusty 
hearse and unpretending train, and the children quit their 
ranks and cluster on the sidewalks with timorous and in- 
stinctive curiosity. The mourners enter the churchyard at 
the base of the steeple and pause by an open grave among 
the burial-stones ; the lightning glimmers on them as they 
lower down the coffin, and the thunder rattles heavily while 
they throw the earth upon its lid. Verily, the shower is 
near, and I tremble for the young man and the girls, who 
have now disappeared from the long and shady street. 

How various are the situations of the people covered by the 
roofs beneath me, and how diversified are the events at this 
moment befalling them ! The new-born, the aged, the dying, 
the strong in life and the recent dead are in the chambers 
of these many mansions. The full of hope, the happy, the 


miserable and the desperate dwell together within the circle 
of my glance. In some of the houses over which my eyes 
roam so coldly guilt is entering into hearts that are still 
tenanted by a debased and trodden virtue ; guilt is on the 
very edge of commission, and the impending deed might be 
averted ; guilt is done, and the criminal wonders if it be ir- 
revocable. There are broad thoughts struggling in my 
mind, and, were I able to give them distinctness, they would 
make their way in eloquence. Lo ! the raindrops are de- 

The clouds within a little time have gathered over all the 
sky, hanging heavily, as if about to drop in one unbroken 
mass upon the earth. At intervals the lightning flashes 
from their brooding hearts, quivers, disappears, and then 
comes the thunder, travelling slowly after its twin-born 
flame. A strong wind has sprung up, howls through the 
darkened streets, and raises the dust in dense bodies to 
rebel against the approaching storm. The disbanded soldiers 
fly, the funeral has already vanished like its dead, and all 
people hurry homeward — all that have a home — while a 
few lounge by the corners or trudge on desperately at their 
leisure. In a narrow lane which communicates with the 
shady street I discern the rich old merchant putting him- 
self to the top of his speed lest the rain should convert his 
hair-powder to a paste. Unhappy gentleman ! By the slow 
vehemence and painful moderation wherewith he journeys, 
it is but too evident that Podagra has left its thrilling ten- 
derness in his great toe. But yonder, at a far more rapid 
pace, come three other of my acquaintance, the two pretty 
girls and the young man unseasonably interrupted in their 
walk. Their footsteps are supported by the risen dust, the 
wind lends them its velocity, they fly like three sea-birds 
driven landward by the tempestuous breeze. The ladies 
would not thus rival Atalanta if they but knew that any 
one were at leisure to observe them. Ah ! as they hasten 
onward, laughing in the angry face of nature, a sudden ca- 


tastrophe has chanced. At the corner where the narrow 
lane enters into the street they come plump against the 
old merchant, whose tortoise-motion has just brought him 
to that point. He likes not the sweet encounter ; the dark- 
ness of the whole air gathers speedily upon his visage, and 
there is a pause on both sides. Finally he thrusts aside the 
youth with little courtesy, seizes an arm of each of the two 
girls, and plods onward like a magician with a prize of cap- 
tive fairies. All this is easy to be understood. How dis- 
consolate the poor lover stands, regardless of the rain that 
threatens an exceeding damage to his well-fashioned habili- 
ments, till he catches a backward glance of mirth from a 
bright eye, and turns away with whatever comfort it 
conveys ! 

The old man and his daughters are safely housed, and 
now the storm lets loose its fury. In every dwelling I per- 
ceive the faces of the chambermaids as they shut down the 
windows, excluding the impetuous shower and shrinking 
away from the quick fiery glare. The large drops descend 
with force upon the slated roofs and rise again in smoke. 
There is a rush and roar as of a river through the air, and 
muddy streams bubble majestically along the pavement, 
whirl their dusky foam into the kennel, and disappear be- 
neath iron grates. Thus did Arethusa sink. I love not my 
station here aloft in the midst of the tumult which I am 
powerless to direct or quell, with the blue lightning wrink- 
ling on my brow and the thunder muttering its first awful 
syllables in my ear. I will descend. Yet let me give an- 
other glance to the sea, where the foam breaks out in long 
white lines upon a broad expanse of blackness or boils up 
in far-distant points like snowy mountain-tops in the eddies 
of a flood ; and let me look once more at the green plain 
and little hills of the country, over which the giant of the 
storm is striding in robes of mist, and at the town whose 
obscured and desolate streets might beseem a city of the 
dead ; and, turning a single moment to the sky, now gloomy 



as an author's prospects, I prepare to resume my station on 
lower earth. But stay ! A little speck of azure has widened 
in the western heavens ; the sunbeams find a passage and 
go rejoicing through the tempest, and on yonder darkest 
cloud, born like hallowed hopes of the glory of another 
world and the trouble and tears of this, brightens forth the 


In those strange old times when fantastic dreams and 
madmen's reveries were realized among the actual circum- 
stances of life, two persons met together at an appointed 
hour and place. One was a lady graceful in form and fair 
of feature, though pale and troubled and smitten with an 
untimely blight in what should have been the fiillest bloom 
of her years ; the other was an ancient and meanly-dressed 
woman of ill-favored aspect, and so withered, shrunken and 
decrepit that even the space since she began to decay must 
have exceeded the ordinary term of human existence. In the 
spot where they encountered no mortal could observe them. 
Three little hills stood near each other, and down in the 
midst of them sunk a hollow basin almost mathematically 
circular, two or three hundred feet in breadth and of such 
depth that a stately cedar might but just be visible above 
the sides. Dwarf pines were numerous upon the hills and 
partly fringed the outer verge of the intermediate hollow, 
within which there was nothing but the brown grass of Oc- 
tober and here and there a tree-trunk that had fallen long 
ago and lay mouldering vnth. no green successor from its 
roots. One of these masses of decaying wood, formerly a 
majestic oak, rested close beside a pool of green and 
sluggish water at the bottom of the basin. Such scenes 
as this (so gray tradition tells) were once the resort of a 
power of evil and his plighted subjects, and here at mid- 
night or on the dim verge of evening they were said to 
stand round the mantling pool disturbing its putrid waters 



in the performance of an impious baptismal rite. The chill 
beauty of an autumnal sunset was now gilding the three 
hill-tops, whence a paler tint stole down their sides into the 

" Here is our pleasant meeting come to pass," said the 
aged crone, " according as thou hast desired. Say quickly 
what thou wouldst have of me, for there is but a short hour 
that we may tarry here." 

As the old withered woman spoke a smile glimmered on 
her countenance like lamplight on the wall of a sepulchre. 
The lady trembled and cast her eyes upward to the verge 
of the basin, as if meditating to return with her purpose 
unaccomplished. But it was not so ordained. 

" I am stranger in this land, as you know," said she, at 
length. " Whence I come it matters not, but I have left 
those behind me with whom my fate was intimately bound, 
and from whom I am cut off for ever. There is a weight in 
my bosom that I cannot away with, and I have come hither 
to inquire of their welfare." 

" And who is there by this green pool that can bring 
thee news from the ends of the earth?" cried the old 
woman, peering into the lady's face. " Not from my lips 
mayst thou hear these tidings ; yet be thou bold, and the 
daylight shall not pass away from yonder hilltop before 
thy wish be granted." 

" I will do your bidding though I die," replied the lady, 

The old woman seated herself on the trunk of the fallen 
tree, threw aside the hood that shrouded her gray locks and 
beckoned her companion to draw near. 

" Kneel down," she said, " and lay your forehead on my 

She hesitated a moment, but the anxiety that had long 
been kindling burned fiercely up within her. As she knelt 
down the border of her garment was dipped into the pool ; 
she laid her forehead on the old woman's knees, and the 


latter drew a cloak about the lady's face, so that she was in 
darkness. Then she heard the muttered words of prayer, 
in the midst of which she started and would have arisen. 

** Let me flee ! Let me flee and hide myself, that they 
may not look upon me !" she cried. But, with returning 
recollection, she hushed herself and was still as death, for 
it seemed as if other voices, familiar in infancy and unfor- 
gotten through many wanderings and in all the vicissitudes 
of her heart and fortune, were mingling with the accents 
of the pra3'er. At first the words were famt and indistinct 
— not rendered so by distance, but rather resembling the 
dim pages of a book which we strive to read by an imper- 
fect and gradually brightening light. In such a manner, 
as the prayer proceeded, did those voices strengthen upon 
the ear, till at length the petition ended, and the conversa- 
tion of an aged man and of a woman broken and decayed 
like himself became distinctly audible to the lady as she 
knelt. But those strangers appeared not to stand in the 
hollow depth between the three hills. Their voices were 
encompassed and re-echoed by the walls of a chamber the 
windows of which were rattling: in the breeze : the reo^ular 
vibration of a clock, the crackling of a fire and the tinkling 
of the embers as they fell among the ashes rendered the 
scene almost as vivid as if painted to the eye. By a melan- 
choly hearth sat these two old people, the man calmly de- 
spondent, the woman querulous and tearful, and their words 
were all of sorrow. They spoke of a daughter, a wanderer they 
knew not where, bearing dishonor along with her and leav- 
ing shame and afiiiction to bring their gray heads to the 
grave. They alluded also to other and more recent woe, 
but in the midst of their talk their voices seemed to melt 
into the sound of the wind sweeping mournfully among 
the autumn leaves; and when the lady lifted her eyes, 
there was she kneeling in the hollow between three hills. 

" A weary and lonesome time yonder old couple have 
of it," remarked the old woman, smiling in the lady's face. 



" And did you also hear tliem ?" exclaimed she, a sense 
of intolerable humiliation triumphing over her agony and 

" Yea, and we have yet more to hear," replied the old 
woman, " wherefore cover thy face quickly." 

Again the withered hag poured forth the monotonous 
words of a prayer that was not meant to be acceptable in 
heaven, and soon in the pauses of her breath strange mur- 
murings began to thicken, gradually increasing, so as to 
drown and overpower the charm by which they grew. 
Shrieks pierced through the obscurity of sound and were 
succeeded by the singing of sweet female voices, which in 
their turn gave way to a wild roar of laughter broken sud- 
denly by groanings and sobs, forming altogether a ghastly 
confusion of terror and mourning and mirth. Chains were 
rattling, fierce and stern voices uttered threats and the 
scourge resounded at their command. All these noises 
deepened and became substantial to the listener's ear, till 
she could distinguish every soft and dreamy accent of the 
love-songs that died causelessly into funeral-hymns. She 
shuddered at the unprovoked wrath which blazed up like 
the spontaneous kindling of flame, and she grew faint at 
the fearful merriment raging miserably around her. In the 
midst of this wild scene, where unbound passions jostled 
each other in a drunken career, there was one solemn voice 
of a man, and a manly and melodious voice it might once 
have been. He went to and fro continually, and his feet 
sounded upon the floor. In each member of that frenzied 
company whose own burning thoughts had become their 
exclusive v/orld he sought an auditor for the story of his 
individual wrong, and interpreted their laughter and tears 
as his reward of scorn or pity. He spoke of woman's per- 
fidy, of a wife who had broken her holiest vows, of a home 
and heart made desolate. Even as he went on, the shout, 
the laugh, the shriek, the sob, rose up in unison, till they 
changed into the hollow, fitful and uneven sound of the 


wind as it fought among the pine trees on those three lonely 

The lady looked up, and there was the withered woman 
smiling in her face. 

" Couldst thou have thought there were such merry times 
in a mad-house ?" inquired the latter. 

*'True, true!" said the lady to herself; "there is mirth 
within its walls, but misery, misery without." 

" Wouldst thou hear more ?" demanded the old woman. 

" There is one other voice I would fain listen to again, ' 
replied the lady, faintly. 

" Then lay down thy head speedily upon my knees, that 
thou mayst get thee hence before the hour be past." 

The golden skirts of day were yet lingering upon the 
hills, but deep shades obscured the hollow and the pool, as 
if sombre night were rising thence to overspread the world. 
Ao-ain that evil woman beo^an to weave her snelh Long- 
did it proceed unanswered, till the knoll ing of a bell stole 
in among the intervals of her words like a clang that had 
travelled far over valley and rising ground and was just 
ready to die in the air. The lady shook upon her compan- 
ion's knees as she heard that boding sound. Stronger it 
grew, and sadder, and deepened into the tone of a death- 
bell, knolling dolefully from some ivy-mantled tower and 
bearing tidings of mortality and woe to the cottage, to the 
hall and to the solitary wayfarer, that all might weep for 
the doom appointed in turn to them. Then came a meas- 
ured tread, passing slowly, slowly on, as of mourners with 
a coffin, their garments trailing on the ground, so that the 
ear could measure the length of their melancholy array. 
Before them went the priest, reading the burial-service, 
while the leaves of his book were rustling in the breeze. 
And though no voice but his was heard to speak aloud, still 
there were revilings and anathemas, whispered but distinct, 
from women and from men, breathed against the daughter 
who had wrung the aged hearts of her parents, the wife 



who had betrayed the trusting fondness of her husband, the 
mother who had sinned against natural affection and left 
her child to die. The sweeping sound of the funeral train 
faded away like a thin vapor, and the wind, that just before 
had seemed to shake the coffin-pall, moaned sadly round 
the verge of the hollow between three hills. But when the 
old woman stirred the kneeling lady, she lifted not her 

" Here has been a sweet hour's sport !" said the withered 
crone, chuckling to herself. 



Methinks, for a person whose instinct bids him rather 
to pore over the current of life than to plunge into its tu- 
multuous waves, no undesirable retreat were a toll-house 
beside some thronged thoroughfare of the land. In youth, 
perhaps, it is good for the observer to run about the earth, 
to leave the track of his footsteps far and wide, to mingle 
himself with the action of numberless vicissitudes, and, 
finally, in some calm solitude to feed a musing spirit on all 
that he has seen and felt. But there are natures too indo- 
lent or too sensitive to endure the dust, the sunshine or the 
rain, the turmoil of moral and physical elements, to which 
all the wayfarers of the world expose themselves. For such 
a man how pleasant a miracle could life be made to roll its 
variegated length by the threshold of his own hermitage, 
and the great globe, as it were, perform its revolutions and 
shift its thousand scenes before his eyes without whirling 
him onward in its course ! If any mortal be favored with 
a lot analogous to this, it is the toll-gatherer. So, at least, 
have I often fancied while lounging on a bench at the door 
of a small square edifice which stands between shore and 
shore in the midst of a long bridge. Beneath the timbers 
ebbs and flows an arm of the sea, while above, like the life- 
blood through a great artery, the travel of the north and 
east is continually throbbing. Sitting on the aforesaid 
bench, I amuse myself with a conception, illustrated by 



numerous pencil-sketches in the air, of the toll-gatherer'a 

In the morning — dim, gray, dewy summer's morn — the 
distant roll of ponderous wheels begins to mingle with my 
old friend's slumbers, creaking more and more harshly 
through the midst of his dream and gradually replacing it 
with realities. Hardly conscious of the change from sleep 
to wakefulness, he finds himself partly clad and throwing 
wide the toll-gates for the passage of a fragrant load of hay. 
The timbers groan beneath the slow-revolving wheels ; one 
sturdy yeoman stalks beside the oxen, and, peering from the 
summit of the hay, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished 
lantern over the toll-house is seen the drowsy visage of his 
comrade, who has enjoyed a nap some ten miles long. The 
toll is paid ; creak, creak, again go the wheels, and the 
huge hay-mow vanishes into the morning mist. As yet 
nature is but half awake, and familiar objects appear vis- 
ionary. But yonder, dashing from the shore with a rattling 
thunder of the Avheels and a confused clatter of hoofs, 
comes the never-tiring mail, which has hurried onward at 
the same headlong, restless rate all through the quiet night. 
The bridge resounds in one continued peal as the coach 
rolls on without a pause, merely affording the toll-gatherer 
a glimpse at the sleepy passengers, who now bestir their 
torpid limbs and snuff a cordial in the briny air. The morn 
breathes upon them and blushes, and they forget how wearily 
the darkness toiled away. And behold now the fervid day 
in his bright chariot, glittering aslant over the waves, nor 
scorning to throw a tribute of his golden beams on the toll- 
gatherer's little hermitage. The old man looks eastward, 
and (for he is a moralizer) frames a simile of the stage-coach 
and the sun. 

While the world is rousing itself we may glance slightly 
at the scene of our sketch. It sits above the bosom of the 
broad flood — a spot not of earth, but in the midst of waters 
which rush with a murmuring sound among the massive 


beams beneath. Over the door is a weatherbeaten board 
inscribed with the rates of toll in letters so nearly effaced 
that the gilding of the sunshine can hardly make them leg- 
ible. Beneath the window is a wooden bench on which a 
long succession of weary wayfarers have reposed themselves. 
Peeping within-doors, we perceive the whitewashed walls 
bedecked with sundry lithographic prints and advertise- 
ments of various import and the immense show-bill of a 
wandering caravan. And there sits our good old toll- 
gatherer, glorified by the early sunbeams. He is a man, as 
his aspect may announce, of quiet soul and thoughtful, 
shrewd, yet simple mind, who of the wisdom which the pass- 
ing world scatters along the wayside has gathered a reason- 
able store. 

Now the sun smiles upon the landscape and earth smiles 
back again upon the sky. Frequent now are the travellers. 
The toll-gatherer's practised ear can distinguish the weight 
of every vehicle, the number of its wheels and how many 
horses beat the resounding timbers with their iron tramp. 
Here, in a substantial family chaise, setting forth betimes 
to take advantage of the dewy road, come a gentleman and 
his wife with their rosy-cheeked little girl sitting gladsomely 
between them. The bottom of the chaise is heaped with 
multifarious bandboxes and carpet-bags, and beneath the 
axle swings a leathern trunk dusty with yesterday's jour- 
ney. Next appears a four-wheeled carryall peopled with a 
round half dozen of pretty girls, all drawn by a single horse 
and driven by a single gentleman. Luckless wight doomed 
through a whole summer day to be the butt of mirth and 
mischief among the frolicsome maidens ! Bolt upright in 
a sulky rides a thin, sour-visaged man who as he pays his 
toll hands the toll-gatherer a printed card to stick upon the 
wall. The vinegar-faced traveller proves to be a manufac- 
turer of pickles. Now paces slowly from timber to timber 
a horseman clad in black, with a meditative brow, as of one 
who, whithersoever his steed might bear him, would still 


journey through a mist of brooding thought. He is a 
country preacher going to labor at a protracted meeting. 
The next object passing townward is a butcher's cart cano- 
pied with its arch of snow-white cotton. Behind comes a 
" sauceman " driving a wagon full of new potatoes, green 
ears of corn, beets, carrots, turnips and summer squashes, 
and next two wrinkled, withered witch-looking old gossips 
in an antediluvian chaise drawn by a horse of former gen- 
erations and going to peddle out a lot of huckleberries. 
See, there, a man trundling a wheelbarrow-load of lobsters. 
And now a milk-cart rattles briskly onward, covered with 
green canvas and conveying the contributions of a whole 
herd of cows, in large tin canisters. 

But let all these pay their toll and pass. Here comes a 
spectacle that causes the old toll-gatherer to smile benig- 
nantly, as if the travellers brought sunshine with them and 
lavished its gladsome influence all along the road. It is a 
barouche of the newest style, the varnished panels of which 
reflect the whole moving panorama of the landscape, and 
show a picture, likewise, of our friend with his visage 
broadened, so that his meditative smile is transformed to 
grotesque merriment. Within sits a youth fresh as the 
summer morn, and beside him a young lady in white with 
white gloves upon her slender hands and a white veil flow- 
ing down over her face. But methinks her blushing cheek 
burns through the snowy veil. Another v/hite-robed virgin 
sits in front. And who are these on whom, and on all that 
appertains to them, the dust of earth seems never to have 
settled? Two lovers whom the priest has blessed this 
blessed morn and sent them forth, with one of the bride- 
maids, on the matrimonial tour. — Take my blessing too, ye 
happy ones ! May the sky not frov/n upon you nor clouds 
bedew you with their chill and sullen rain ! May the hot 
sun kindle no fever in your hearts ! May your whole life's 
pilgrimage be as blissful as this first day's journey, and its 
close be gladdened with even brighter anticipations than 


those wlilcli hallow your bridal-night ! They pass, and ere 
the reflection of their joy has faded from his face another 
spectacle throws a melancholy shadow over the spirit of the 
observing man. In a close carriage sits a fragile figure 
muffled carefully and shrinking even from the mild breath 
of summer. She leans against a manly form, and his arm 
enfolds her as if to guard his treasure from some enemy. 
Let but a few weeks pass, and when he shall strive to em- 
brace that loved one, he will press only desolation to his 

And now has Morning gathered up her dewy pearls and 
fled away. The sun rolls blazing through the sky, and can- 
not find a cloud to cool his face with. The horses toil slug- 
gishly along the bridge, and heave their glistening sides in 
short quick pantings when the reins are tightened at the 
toll-house. Glisten, too, the faces of the travellers. Their 
garments are thickly bestrewn with dust; their whiskers 
and hair look hoary ; their throats are choked with the 
dusty atmosj^here which they have left behind them. No 
air is stirring on the road. Nature dares draw no breath 
lest she should inhale a stifling cloud of dust. " A hot and 
dusty day !" cry the poor pilgrims as they wipe their be- 
grimed foreheads and woo the doubtful breeze which the 
river bears along with it. — " Awful hot ! Dreadful dusty V 
answers the sympathetic toll-gatherer. They start again to 
pass through the fiery furnace, while he re-enters his cool 
hermitage and besprinkles it with a pail of briny water 
from the stream beneath. He thinks within himself that 
the sun is not so fierce here as elsewhere, and that the gentle 
air doth not forget him in these sultry days. Yes, old 
friend, and a quiet heart will make a dog-day temperate. 
He hears a weary footstep, and perceives a traveller with 
pack and stafiT, vvho sits down upon the hospitable bench 
and removes the hat from his wet brow. The toll-gatherer 
administers a cup of cold water, and, discovering his guest 
to be a man of homely sense, he engages him in profitable 


talk, uttering the maxims of a philosophy which he has 
found in his own soul, but knows not how it came there. 
And as the wayfarer makes ready to resume his journey he 
tells him a sovereign remedy for blistered feet. 

Now comes the noontide hour — of all the hours, nearest 
akin to midnight, for each has its own calmness and repose. 
Soon, however, the world begins to turn again upon its axis, 
and it seems the busiest epoch of the day, when an accident 
impedes the march of sublunary things. The draw being 
lifted to permit the passage of a schooner laden with wood 
from the Eastern forests, she sticks immovably right 
athwart the bridge. Meanwhile, on both sides of the chasm 
a throng of impatient travellers fret and fume. Here are 
two sailors in a gig \dih the top thrown back, both puffing 
cigars and swearing all sorts of forecastle oaths ; there, in 
a smart chaise, a dashingly-dressed gentleman and lady, he 
from a tailor's shop-board and she from a milliner's back 
room — the aristocrats of a summer afternoon. And what 
are the haughtiest of us but the ephemeral aristocrats of a 
summer's day ? Here is a tin-pedler whose glittering ware 
bedazzles all beholders like a travelling meteor or opposition 
sun, and on the other side a seller of spruce beer, which 
brisk liquor is confined in several dozen of stone bottles. 
Here come a party of ladies on horseback, in green riding- 
habits, and gentlemen attendant, and there a flock of sheep 
for the market, pattering over the bridge with a multitudi- 
nous clatter of their little hoofs ; here a Frenchman with a 
hand-organ on his shoulder, and there an itinerant Swiss 
jeweller. On this side, heralded by a blast of clarions and 
bugles, appears a train of wagons conveying all the v/ild 
beasts of a caravan ; and on that a company of summer 
soldiers marching from village to village on a festival cam- 
paign, attended by the " brass band." Now look at the 
scene, and it j^resents an emblem of the mysterious confu- 
sion, the apparently insolvable riddle, in which individuals. 


or the great world itself, seem often to be involved. What 
miracle shall set all things right again ? 

But see! the schooner has thrust her bulky carcase 
through the chasm ; the draw descends ; horse and foot pass 
onward and leave the bridge vacant from end to end. " And 
thus," muses the toll-gatherer, " have I found it with all 
stoppages, even though the universe seemed to be at a 
stand." The sage old man ! 

Far westward now the reddening sun throws a broad 
sheet of splendor across the flood, and to the eyes of distant 
boatmen gleams brightly among the timbers of the bridge. 
Strollers come from the town to quaff the freshening breeze. 
One or two let down long lines and haul up flapping floun- 
ders or cunners or small cod, or perhaps an eel. Others, and 
fair girls among them, with the flush of the hot day still on 
their cheeks, bend over the railing and watch the heaps 
of seaweed floating upward with the flowing tide. The 
horses now tramp heavily along the bridge and wistfully 
bethink them of their stables. — Rest, rest, thou weary 
world ! for to-morrow's round of toil and pleasure will be 
as wearisome as to-day's has been, yet both shall bear thee 
onward a day's march of eternity. — Now the old toll-gath- 
erer looks seaward and discerns the lighthouse kindling on 
a far island, and the stars, too, kindling in the sky, as if but 
a little way beyond ; and, mingling reveries of heaven with 
remembrances of earth, the whole procession of mortal 
travellers, all the dusty pilgrimage which he has witnessed, 
seems like a flitting show of phantoms for his thoughtftil 
soul to muse upon. 


At fifteen I became a resident in a country village more 
than a hundred miles from home. The morning after my 
arrival — a September morning, but wai'm and bright as any 
in July — I rambled into a wood of oaks Avith a few walnut 
trees interaiixed, forming the closest shade above my head. 
The ground was rocky, uneven, overgrown with bushes and 
clumps of young saplings and traversed only by cattle-paths. 
The track w^hich I chanced to follow led me to a crystal 
spring with a border of grass as freshly green as on May 
morning, and overshadowed by the limb of a great oak. One 
solitary sunbeam found its way down and played like a 
goldfish in the water. 

From my childhood I have loved to gaze into a spring. 
The water filled a circular basin, small but deep and set 
round with stones, some of which w^ere covered with 
slimy moss, the others naked and of variegated hue — 
reddish, white and brown. The bottom was covered with 
coarse sand, which sparkled in the lonely sunbeam and 
seemed to illuminate the spring with an unborrowed light. 
In one spot the gush of the water violently agitated the 
sand, but without obscuring the fountain or breaking the 
glassiness of its surface. It appeared as if some living 
creature were about to emerge — the naiad of the spring, 
perhaps, in the shape of a beautiful young woman with a 
gown of filmy water-moss, a belt of rainbow-drops and a 
cold, pure, passionless countenance. How would the be- 


holder shiver, pleasantly yet fearfully, to see her sitting 
on one of the stones, paddling her white feet in the ripples 
and throwing up water to sparkle in the sun ! Wherever 
she laid her hands on grass and flowers, they would imme- 
diately be moist, as with morning dew. Then would she 
set about her labors, like a careful housewife, to clear the 
fountain of withered leaves, and bits of slimy wood, and 
old acorns from the oaks above, and grains of corn left by 
cattle in drinking, till the bright sand in the bright water 
were like a treasury of diamonds. But, should the intruder 
approach too near, he would find only the drops of a sum- 
mer shower glistening about the spot where he had seen 

Reclining on the border of grass where the dewy goddess 
should have been, I bent forward, and a pair of eyes met 
mine within the watery mirror. They were the reflection 
of my own. I looked again, and, lo ! another face, deeper 
in the fountain than my own image, more distinct in all the 
features, yet faint as thought. The vision had the aspect 
of a fair young girl with locks of paly gold. A mirthful 
expression laughed in the eyes and dimpled over the whole 
shadowy countenance, till it seemed just what a fountain 
would be if, while dancing merrily into the sunshine, it 
should assume the shape of woman. Through the dim rosi- 
ness of the cheeks I could see the brown leaves, the slimy 
twigG, the acorns and the sparkling sand. The solitary sun- 
beam was difiused among the golden hair, which melted 
into its faint brightness and became a glory round that head 
so beautiful. 

My description can give no idea how suddenly the foun- 
tain was thus tenanted and how soon it was left desolate. 
I breathed, and there was the face ; I held my breath, and 
it was gone. Had it passed away or faded into nothing ? 
I doubted whether it had ever been. 

My sweet readers, what a dreamy and delicious hour did 
I spend where that vision found and left me ! For a long 


time I sat perfectly still, waiting till it should reappear, and 
fearful that the slightest motion, or even the flutter of my 
breath, might frighten it away. Thus have I often started 
from a pleasant dream, and then kept quiet in hopes to wile 
it back. Deep were my musings as to the race and attri- 
butes of that ethereal being. Had I created her? Was 
she the daughter of my fancy, akin to those strange shapes 
which peep under the lids of children's eyes ? And did her 
beauty gladden me for that one moment and then die ? Or 
was she a water-nymph within the fountain, or fairy or 
woodland goddess peeping over my shoulder, or the ghost 
of some forsaken maid who had drowned herself for love ? 
Or, in good truth, had a lovely girl with a warm heart and 
lips that would bear pressure stolen softly behind me and 
thrown her image into the spring ? 

I watched and waited, but no vision came again. I de- 
parted, but with a spell upon me which drew me back that 
same afternoon to the haunted spring. There was the water 
gushing, the sand sparkling and the sunbeam glimmering. 
There the vision was not, but only a great frog, the hermit 
of that solitude, who immediately withdrew his speckled 
snout and made himself invisible — all except a pair of long 
legs — beneath a stone. Methought he had a devilish look. 
I could have slain him as an enchanter who kept the myste- 
rious beauty imprisoned in the fountain. 

Sad and heavy, I was returning to the village. Between 
me and the church-spire rose a little hill, and on its sum- 
mit a group of trees insulated from all the rest of the wood, 
with their own share of radiance hovering on them from 
the west and their own solitary shadow falling to the east. 
The afternoon being far declined, the sunshine was almost 
pensive and the shade almost cheerful ; glory and gloom were 
mingled in the placid light, as if the spirits of the Day and 
Evening had met in friendship under -those trees and found 
themselves akin. I was admiring the picture when the 
shape of a young girl emerged from behind the clump of 


oaks. Mv heart knew her : it was the vision, but so distant 
and ethereal did she seem, so unmixed with earth, so imbued 
with the pensive glory of the spot where she was standing, 
that my spirit sunk within me, sadder than before. How 
could I ever reach her ? 

While I gazed a sudden shower came pattering down upon 
the leaves. In a moment the air was full of brightness, each 
raindrop catching a portion of sunlight as it fell, and the 
whole gentle shower appearing like a mist, just substantial 
enouojh to bear the burden of radiance. A rainbow vivid 
as Niagara's was painted in the air. Its southern limb came 
down before the group of trees and enveloped the fair 
vision as if the hues of heaven were the only garment for 
her beauty. When the rainbow vanished, she who had 
seemed a part of it was no longer there. Was her existence 
absorbed in nature's loveliest phenomenon, and did her pure 
frame dissolve away in the varied light ? Yet I would not 
despair of her return, for, robed in the rainbow, she was 
the emblem of Hope. 

Thus did the vision leave me, and many a doleful day 
succeeded to the parting moment. By the spring and in 
the wood and on the hill and through the village, at dewy 
sunrise, burning noon, and at that magic hour of sunset, 
when she had vanished from my sight, I sought her, but in 
vain. Weeks came and went, months rolled away, and she 
appeared not in them. I imparted my mystery to none, 
but wandered to and fro or sat in solitude like one that had 
caught a glimpse of heaven and could take no more joy 
on earth. I withdrew into an inner world where my 
thoughts lived and breathed, and the vision in the midst 
of them. Without intending it, I became at once the au- 
thor and hero of a romance, conjuring up rivals, imagining 
events, the actions of others and my own, and experiencing 
every change of passion, till jealousy and despair had their 
end in bliss. Oh, had I the burning fancy of my early 


youth with manhood's colder gift, the power of expression, 
your hearts, sweet ladies, should flutter at my tale. 

In the middle of January I was summoned home. The 
day before my departure, visiting the spots which had been 
hallowed by the vision, I found that the spring had a frozen 
bosom, and nothing but the snow and a glare of winter sun- 
shine on the hill of the rainbow. '' Let me hope," thought 
I, " or my heart will be as icy as the fountain and the whole 
world as desolate as this snowy hill." Most of the day was 
spent in preparing for the journey, which was to commence 
at four o'clock the next morning. About an hour after 
supper, when all was in readiness, I descended from my 
chamber to the sitting-room to take leave of the old clergy- 
man and his family with whom I had been an inmate. A 
gust of w^ind blew out my lamp as I passed through the entry. 

According to their invariable custom — so pleasant a one 
when the fire blazes cheerfully — the family were sitting in 
the parlor with no other light than what came from tlie 
hearth. As the good clergyman's scanty stipend compelled 
him to use all sorts of economy, the foundation of his fires 
was always a large heap of tan, or ground bark, which 
would smoulder away from morning till night with a dull 
warmth and no flame. This evening the heap of tan was 
newly put on and surmounted with three sticks of red oak 
ftill of moisture, and a few pieces of dry pine that had not 
yet kindled. There was no light except the little that came 
sullenly from two half-burnt brands, without even glimmer- 
ing on the andirons. But I knew the position of the old 
minister's arm-chair, and also where his wife sat with her 
knitting- work, and how to avoid his two daughters — one a 
stout country lass, and the other a consumptive girl. Grop- 
ing through the gloom, I found my own place next to that 
of the son, a learned collegian who had come home to keep 
school in the village during the winter vacation. I noticed 
that there was less room than usual to-night between the 
collegian's chair and mine. 


As people are always taciturn in the dark, not a word 
was said for some time after my entrance. Nothing broke 
the stillness but the regular click of the matron's knitting- 
needles. At times the fire threw out a brief and dusky 
gleam which twinkled on the old man's glasses and hovered 
doubtfully round our circle, but was far too faint to portray 
the individuals who composed it. Were we not like ghosts ? 
Dreamy as the scene was, might it not be a type of the 
mode in which departed people who had known and loved 
each other here would hold communion in eternity ? "We 
were aware of each other's presence, not by sight nor sound 
nor touch, but by an inward consciousness. Would it not 
be so among the dead ? 

The silence w^as interrupted by the consumptive daughter 
addressing a remark to some one in the circle whom she 
called Rachel. Her tremulous and decayed accents were 
answered by a single word, but in a voice that made me 
start and bend toward the spot whence it had proceeded. 
Had I ever heard that sweet, low tone ? If not, why did 
it rouse up so many old recollections, or mockeries of such, 
the shadows of things familiar yet unknown, and fill my 
mind with confused images of her features who had spoken, 
though buried in the gloom of the parlor ? Whom had my 
heart recognized, that it throbbed so ? I listened to catch 
her gentle breathing, and strove by the intensity of my gaze 
to picture forth a shape where none was visible. 

Suddenly the dry pine caught ; the fire blazed up with a 
ruddy glow, and where the darkness had been, there was 
she — the vision of the fountain. A spirit of radiance only, 
she had vanished with the rainbow and appeared again in 
the firelight, perhaps to flicker with the blaze and be gone. 
Yet her cheek was rosy and lifelike, and her features, in the 
bright warmth of the room, were even sweeter and tenderer 
than my recollection of them. She knew me. The mirth- 
ful expression that had laughed in her eyes and dimpled 
over her countenance when I beheld her faint beauty in the 




fountain was laughing and dimpling there now. One mo- 
ment our glance mingled ; the next, down rolled the heap 
of tan upon the kindled wood, and darkness snatched away 
that daughter of the light, and gave her back to me no 
more ! 

Fair ladies, there is nothing more to tell. Must the sim- 
ple mystery be revealed, then, that Rachel was the daugh- 
ter of the village squire and had left home for a boarding- 
school the morning after I arrived and returned the day 
before my departure ? If I transformed her to an angel, it 
is what every youthful lover does for his mistress. Therein 
consists the essence of my story. But slight the change, 
sweet maids, to make angels of yourselves. 



What is guilt? A stain upon the soul. And it is a 
point of vast interest whether the soul may contract such 
stains in all their depth and flagrancy from deeds which 
may have been plotted and resolved upon, but which physi- 
cally have never had existence. Must the fleshly hand and 
visible frame of man set its seal to the evil designs of the 
soul, in order to give them their entire validity against the 
sinner ? Or, while none but crimes perpetrated are cogni- 
zable before an earthly tribunal, will guilty thoughts — of 
which guilty deeds are no more than shadows, — will these 
draw down the full weight of a condemning sentence in the 
supreme court of eternity ? In the solitude of a midnight 
chamber or in a desert afar from men or in a church while 
the body is kneeling the soul may pollute itself even with 
those crimes which we are accustomed to deem altogether 
carnal. If this be true, it is a fearful truth. 

Let us illustrate the subject by an imaginary example. 
A venerable gentleman — one Mr. Smith — who had long 
been regarded as a pattern of moral excellence was warm- 
ing his aged blood with a glass or two of generous wine. 
His children being gone forth about their worldly business 
and his grandchildren at school, he sat alone in a deep 
luxurious arm-chair with his feet beneath a richly-carved 
mahogany table. Some old people have a dread of solitude, 



and "when better compaDy may not be had rejoice even to 
hear the quiet breathing of a babe asleep upon the carpet. 
But Mr. Smith, whose silver hair was the bright symbol of 
a life unstained except by such spots as are inseparable 
from human nature — he had no need of a babe to protect 
him by its purity, nor of a grown person to stand between 
him and his own soul. Nevertheless, either manhood must 
converse with age, or womanhood must soothe him with 
gentle cares, or infancy must sport around his chair, or his 
thoughts will stray into the misty region of the past and 
the old man be chill and sad. Wine will not always cheer 

Such might have been the case with Mr. Smith, when, 
through the brilliant medium of his glass of old Madeira, 
he beheld three figures entering the room. These were 
Fancy, who had assumed the garb and aspect of an itiner- 
ant showman, with a box of pictures on her back; and 
Memory, in the likeness of a clerk, with a pen behind her 
ear, an inkhorn at her buttonhole and a huge manuscript 
volume beneath her arm ; and lastly, behind the other two, 
a person shrouded in a dusky mantle which concealed both 
face and form. But Mr. Smith had a shrewd idea that it 
was Conscience. How kind of Fancy, Memory and Con- 
science to visit the old gentleman just as he was beginning 
to imagine that the wine had neither so bright a sparkle 
nor so excellent a flavor as when himself and the liquor 
were less aged ! Through the dim length of the apartment, 
where crimson curtains muffled the glare of sunshine and 
created a rich obscurity, the three guests drew near the 
silver-haired old man. Memory, with a finger between the 
leaves of her huge volume, placed herself at his right hand ; 
Conscience, with her face still hidden in the dusky mantle, 
took her station on the left, so as to be next his heart ; while 
Fancy set down her picture-box upon the table with the 
magnifying-glass convenient to his eye. 


We can sketch merely the outlines of two or three out of 
the many pictures which at the pulling of a string succes- 
sively peopled the box with the semblances of living scenes. 
One was a moonlight picture, in the background a lowly 
dwelling, and in front, partly shadowed by a tree, yet be- 
sprinkled with flakes of radiance, two youthful figures, 
male and female. The young man stood with folded arms, 
a haughty smile upon his lip and a gleam of triumph in his 
eye as he glanced downward at the kneeling girl. She w^as 
almost prostrate at his feet, evidently sinking under a weight 
of shame and anguish which hardly allowed her to lift her 
clasped hands in supplication. Her eyes she could not lift. 
But neither her agony, nor the lovely features on which it 
was depicted, nor the slender grace of the form which it 
convulsed, appeared to soften the obduracy of the young 
man. He was the personification of triumphant scorn. 

Now, strange to say, as old Mr. Smith peeped through 
the magnify ing-glass, which made the objects start out from 
the canvas with magical deception, he began to recognize 
the farmhouse, the tree and both the figures of the picture. 
The young man in times long past had often met his gaze 
within the looking-glass ; the girl was the very image of his 
first love — his cottage-love, his Martha Burroughs. Mr. 
Smith was scandalized. " Oh, vile and slanderous picture !'* 
he exclaims. " When have I triumphed over ruined inno- 
cence? Was not Martha wedded in her teens to David 
Tomkins, who won her girlish love and long enjoyed her 
affection as a wife ? And ever since his death she has lived 
a reputable widow !" 

Meantime, Memory was turning over the leaves of her 
volume, rustling them to and fro with uncertain fingers, 
until among the earlier pages she found one vdiich had ref- 
erence to this picture. She reads it close to the old gentle- 
man's ear : it is a record merely of sinful thought which 
never was embodied in an act, but, while Memory is reading, 
Conscience unveils her face and strikes a dagger to the 


heart of Mr. Smith. Though not a death-blow, the torture 
was extreme. 

The exhibition proceeded. One after another Fancy 
displayed her pictures, all of which appeared to have 
been painted by some malicious artist on purpose to vex 
Mr. Smith. Not a shadow of proof could have been 
adduced in any earthly court that he was guilty of the 
slightest of those sins which were thus made to stare him 
in the face. In one scene there was a table set out, with 
several bottles and glasses half filled with wine, which 
threw back the dull ray of an expiring lamp. There had 
been mirth and revelry until the hand of the clock stood 
just at midnight, when ]\Iurder stepped between the boon- 
companions. A young man had fallen on the floor, and 
lay stone dead with a ghastly wound crushed into his 
temple, while over him, with a delirium of mingled rage 
and horror in his countenance, stood the youthful likeness 
of Mr. Smith. The murdered youth wore the features of 
Edward Spencer. " What does this rascal of a painter 
mean?" cries Mr. Smith, provoked beyond all patience. 
" Edward Spencer was my earliest and dearest friend, true 
to me as I to him through more than half a century. 
Neither I nor any other ever murdered him. Was he 
not alive within five years, and did he not, in token of our 
long friendship, bequeath me his gold-headed cane and a 

Again had Memory been turning over her volume, and 
fixed at length upon so confused a page that she surely 
must have scribbled it when she was tipsy. The purport 
was, however, that while Mr. Smith and Edward Spencer 
were heating their young blood with wine a quarrel had 
flashed up between them, and Mr Smith, in deadly wrath, 
had flung a bottle at Spencer's head. True, it missed ita 
aim and merely smashed a looking-glass ; and the next morn- 
ing, when the incident was imperfectly remembered, they 
had shaken hands with a hearty laugh. Yet, again, while 


Memory was reading, Conscience unveiled her face, struck 
a dagger to the heart of Mr. Smith and quelled his remon- 
strance with her iron frown. The pain was quite excruci- 

Some of the pictures had been painted with so doubtful 
a touch, and in colors so faint and pale, that the subjects 
-could barely be conjectured. A dull, semi-transparent mist 
had been thrown over the surface of the canvas, into which 
the figures seemed to vanish while the eye sought most 
earnestly to fix them. But in every scene, however du- 
biously portrayed, Mr. Smith was invariably haunted by 
his own lineaments at various ages as in a dusty mirror. 
After poring several minutes over one of these blurred 
and almost indistinguishable pictures, he began to see that 
the painter had intended to represent him, now in the de- 
cline of life, as stripping the clothes from the backs of three 
half-starved children. " Really, this puzzles me !" quoth 
Mr. Smith, wath the irony of conscious rectitude. " Ask- 
ing pardon of the painter, I pronounce him a fool as well 
as a scandalous knave. A man of my standing in the 
world to be robbing little children of their clothes ! Ri- 
diculous !" 

But while he spoke Memory had searched her fatal vol- 
ume and found a page which with her sad calm voice she 
poured into his ear. It was not altogether inapplicable to 
the misty scene. It told how Mr. Smith had been grievously 
tempted by many devilish sophistries, on the ground of a 
legal quibble, to commence a lawsuit against three orphan- 
children, joint-heirs to a considerable estate. Fortunately, 
before he was quite decided, his claims had turned out 
nearly as devoid of law as justice. As Memory ceased to 
read Conscience again thrust aside her mantle, and would 
have struck her victim with the envenomed dagger only 
that he struggled and clasped his hands before his heart. 
Even then, however, he sustained an ugly gash. 

"Why should we follow Fancy through the whole series 


of those awful pictures ? Painted by an artist of wondrous 
power and terrible acquaintance with the secret soul, they 
embodied the ghosts of all the never-perpetrated sins that 
had glided through the lifetime of Mr. Smith. And could 
such beings of cloudy fantasy, so near akin to nothingness, 
give valid evidence against him at the day of judgment ? 
Be that the case or not, there is reason to believe that one 
truly penitential tear would have washed away each hate- 
ful picture and left the canvas white as snow. But Mr. 
Smith, at a prick of Conscience too keen to be endured, 
bellowed aloud with impatient agony, and suddenly dis- 
covered that his three guests were gone. There he sat 
alone, a silver-haired and highly-venerated old man, in the 
rich gloom of the crimsoned-curtained room, with no box 
of pictures on the table, but only a decanter of most excel- 
lent Madeira. Yet his heart still seemed to fester with the 
venom of the dagger. 

Kevertheless, the unfortunate old gentleman might have 
argued the matter with Conscience and alleged many rea- 
sons wherefore she should not smite him so pitilessly. Were 
we to take up his cause, it should be somewhat in the fol- 
lowing fashion. A scheme of guilt, till it be put in execu- 
tion, greatly resembles a train of incidents in a projected 
tale. The latter, in order to produce a sense of reality in 
the reader's mind, must be conceived with such propor- 
tionate strength by the author as to seem in the glow of 
fancy more like truth, past, present or to come, than purely 
fiction. The prospective sinner, on the other hand, weaves 
his plot of crime, but seldom or never feels a perfect cer- 
tainty that it will be executed. There is a dreaminess dif- 
fused about his thoughts ; in a dream, as it were, he strikes 
the death-blow into his victim's heart and starts to find an 
indelible blood-stain on his hand. Thus a novel-writer or a 
dramatist, in creating a villain of romance and fitting him 
with evil deeds, and the villain of actual life in projecting 
crimes that will be perpetrated, may almost meet each other 


halfway between reality and fancy. It is not until the 
crime is accomplished that Guilt clenches its gripe upon 
the guilty heart and claims it for his own. Then, and not 
before, sin is actually felt and acknowledged, and, if unac- 
companied by repentance, grows a thousandfold more vir- 
ulent by its self-consciousness. Be it considered, also, that 
men often overestimate their capacity for evil. At a dis- 
tance, while its attendant circumstances do not press upon 
their notice and its results are dimly seen, they can bear to 
contemplate it. They may take the steps which lead to 
crime, impelled by the same sort of mental action as in 
working out a mathematical problem, yet be powerless 
with compunction at the final moment. They knew not 
what deed it was that they deemed themselves resolved to 
do. In truth, there is no such thing in man's nature as a 
settled and full resolve, either for good or evil, except at 
the very moment of execution. Let us hope, therefore, 
that all the dreadful consequences of sin will not be incurred 
unless the act have set its seal upon the thought. 

Yet, with the slight fancy-work which we have framed, 
some sad and awful truths are interwoven. Man must not 
disclaim his brotherhood even with the guiltiest, since, 
though his hand be clean, his heart has surely been polluted 
by the flitting phantoms of iniquity. He must feel that 
when he shall knock at the gate of heaven no semblance of 
an unspotted life can entitle him to entrance there. Peni- 
tence must kneel and Mercy come from the footstool of the 
throne, or that golden gate will never open. 


That very singular man old Dr. Heidegger once invited 
four venerable friends to meet him in his study. There 
were three white-bearded gentlemen — Mr. Medbourne, Col- 
onel Killigrew and Mr. Gascoigne — and a withered gentle- 
woman whose name was the widow Wycherly. They were 
all melancholy old creatures who had been unfortunate in 
life, and whose greatest misfortune it was that they were 
not long ago in their graves. ^Ir. Medbourne, in the vigor 
of his age, had been a prosperous merchant, but had lost 
his all by a frantic speculation, and was now little better 
than a mendicant. Colonel Killigrew had wasted his best 
years and his health and substance in the pursuit of sinful 
pleasures which had given birth to a brood of pains, such 
as the gout and divers other torments of soul and body. 
Mr. Gascoigne was a ruined politician, a man of evil fame 
— or, at least, had been so till time had buried him from 
the knowledge of the present generation and made him ob- 
scure instead of infamous. As for the widow Wycherly, 
tradition tells us that she was a great beauty in her day, 
but for a long while past she had lived in deep seclusion on 
account of certain scandalous stories which had prejudiced 
the gentry of the town against her. It is a circumstance 
worth mentioning that each of these three old gentlemen — 
Mr. Medbourne, Colonel Killigrew and Mr. Gascoigne — 
were early lovers of the widow Wycherly, and had once 
been on the point of cutting each other's throats for her 



sake. And before proceeding farther I will merely hint 
that Dr. Heidegger and all his four guests were sometimes 
thought to be a little beside themselves, as is not infre- 
quently the case with old peoj^le when worried either by 
present troubles or woeful recollections. 

" My dear old friends," said Dr. Heidegger, motioning 
them to be seated, " I am desirous of your assistance in one 
of those little experiments with which I amuse myself here 
in my study." 

If all stories were true, Dr. Heidegger's study must have 
been a very curious place. It was a dim, old-fashioned 
chamber festooned with cobw^ebs and besprinkled with an- 
tique dust. Around the walls stood several oaken book- 
cases, the lower shelves of which were filled with rows of 
gigantic folios and black-letter quartos, and the upper mth 
little parchment-covered duodecimos. Over the central 
bookcase was a bronze bust of Hippocrates, with w^hich, 
according to some authorities. Dr. Heidegger was accus- 
tomed to hold consultations in all difficult cases of his prac- 
tice. In the obscurest corner of the room stood a tall and 
narrow oaken closet with its door ajar, within which doubt- 
fully appeared a skeleton. Between two of the bookcases 
hung a looking-glass, presenting its high and dusty plate 
within a tarnished gilt frame. Among many wonderful 
stories related of this mirror, it was fabled that the spirits 
of all the doctor's deceased patients dwelt within its verge 
and would stare him in the face whenever he looked thith- 
erward. The opposite side of the chamber was ornamented 
with the full-length portrait of a young lady arrayed in the 
faded magnificence of silk, satin and brocade, and with a 
visage as faded as her dress. Above half a century ago 
Dr. Heidegger had been on the point of marriage with this 
young lady, but, being affected with some slight disorder, 
she had swallowed one of her lover's prescriptions and died 
on the bridal-evening. The greatest curiosity of the study 
remains to be mentioned : it was a ponderous folio volume 


bound in black leather, with massive silver clasps. There 
were no letters on the back, and nobody could tell the title 
of the book. But it was well known to be a book of 
magic, and once, when a chambermaid had lifted it merely 
to brush away the dust, the skeleton had rattled in its 
closet, the picture of the young lady had stepped one foot 
upon the floor and several ghastly faces had peeped forth 
from the mirror, while the brazen head of Hippocrates 
frowned and said, " Forbear !" 

Such was Dr. Heidegger's study. On the summer after- 
noon of our tale a small round table as black as ebony 
stood in the centre of the room, sustaining a cut-glass vase 
of beautiful form and elaborate workmanship. The sun- 
shine came through the window between the heavy festoons 
of two faded damask curtains and fell directly across this 
vase; so that a mild splendor was reflected from it on the 
ashen visages of the five old people who sat around. Four 
champagne-glasses were also on the table. 

"My dear old friends," repeated Dr. Heidegger, "may 
I reckon on your aid in performing an exceedingly curious 
experiment ?" 

Now, Dr. Heidegger was a very strange old gentleman 
whose eccentricity had become the nucleus for a thousand 
fantastic stories. Some of these fables — to my shame be it 
spoken — might possibly be traced back to mine own vera- 
cious self; and if any passages of the present tale should 
startle the reader's faith, I must be content to bear the 
stigma of a fiction-monger. 

"When the doctor's four guests heard him talk of his pro- 
posed experiment, they anticipated nothing more wonderful 
than the murder of a mouse in an air-pump or the examina- 
tion of a cobweb by the microscope, or some similar non- 
sense with which he was constantly in the habit of pestering 
his intimates. But without waiting for a reply Dr. Hei- 
degger hobbled across the chamber and returned with the 
same ponderous folio bound in black leather which common 



report affirmed to be a book of magic. Undoing the silver 
clasps, he opened the volume and took from among its 
black-letter pages a rose, or what was once a rose, though 
now the green leaves and crimson petals had assumed one 
brownish hue and the ancient flower seemed ready to crum- 
ble to dust in the doctor's hands. 

" This rose," said Dr. Heidegger, with a sigh — " this same 
withered and crumbling flower — blossomed five and fifty 
years ago. It was given me by Sylvia Ward, whose por- 
trait hangs yonder, and I meant to wear it in my bosom at 
our wedding. Five and fifty years it has been treasured 
between the leaves of this old volume. Now, would you 
deem it possible that this rose of half a century could ever 
bloom again ?" 

" Nonsense !" said the widow "Wycherly, with a peevish 
toss of her head. " You might as well ask whether an old 
woman's wrinkled face could ever bloom again." 

" See !" answered Dr. Pleidegger. He uncovered the 
vase and threw the faded rose into the water which it con- 
tained. At first it lay lightly on the surface of the fluid, 
appearing to imbibe none of its moisture. Soon, however, 
a singular change began to be visible. The crushed and 
dried petals stirred and assumed a deepening tinge of crim- 
son, as if the flower were reviving from a deathlike slum- 
ber, the slender stalk and twigs of foliage became green, 
and there was the rose of half a century, looking as fresh 
as when Sylvia Ward had first given it to her lover. It 
was scarcely full-blown, for some of its delicate red leaves 
curled modestly around its moist bosom, within which two 
or three dewdrops were sparkling. 

"That is certainly a very pretty deception," said the 
doctor's friends — carelessly, however, for they had witnessed 
greater miracles at a conjurer's show. " Pray, how was it 

" Did you never hear of the Fountain of Youth ?" asked 


Dr. Heidegger, " which Ponce de Leon, the Spanish adven- 
turer, went in search of two or three centuries ago ?" 

" But did Ponce de Leon ever find it ?" said the wiilow 

" No," answered Dr. Heidegger, " for he never sought it 
in the right place. The famous Fountain of Youth, if I 
am rightly informed, is situated in the southern part of the 
Floridian peninsula, not far from Lake Macaco. Its source 
is overshadowed by several gigantic magnolias which, 
though numberless centuries old, have been kept as fresh 
as violets by the virtues of this wonderful water. An ac- 
quaintance of mine, knowing my curiosity in such matters, 
has sent me what you see in the vase." 

" Ahem !" said Colonel Killigrew, who believed not a 
word of the doctor's story ; " and what may be the efiect 
of this fluid on the human frame ?" 

*' You shall judge for yourself, my dear colonel," replied 
Dr. Heidegger. — "And all of you, my respected friends, are 
welcome to so much of this admirable fluid as may restore 
to you the bloom of youth. For my own part, having had 
much trouble in growing old, I am in no hurry to grow 
young again. With your permission, therefore, I will 
merely watch the progress of the experiment." 

While he spoke Dr. Heidegger had been filling the four 
champagne-glasses with the water of the Fountain of Youth. 
It was apparently impregnated with an eflervescent gas, for 
little bubbles were continually ascending from the depths 
of the glasses and bursting in silvery spray at the surface. 
As the liquor diflused a pleasant perfume, the old people 
doubted not that it possessed cordial and comfortable prop- 
erties, and, though utter sceptics as to its rejuvenescent 
power, they were inclined to swallow it at once. But Dr. 
Heidegger besought them to stay a moment. 

" Before you drink, my respectable old friends," said he, 
** it would be well that, with the experience of a lifetime to 


direct you, you should draw up a few general rules for your 
guidance in passing a second time through the perils of 
youth. Think what a sin and shame it would be if, with 
your peculiar advantages, you should not become patterns 
of virtue and wisdom to all the young people of the age !" 

The doctor's four venerable friends made him no answer 
except by a feeble and tremulous laugh, so very ridiculous 
was the idea that, knowing how closely Repentance treads 
behind the steps of Error, they should ever go astray 

" Drink, then," said the doctor, bowing ; " I rejoice that 
I have so well selected the subjects of my experiment." 

With palsied hands they raised the glasses to their lips. 
The liquor, if it really possessed such virtues as Dr. Heideg- 
ger imputed to it, could not have been bestowed on four 
human beings who needed it more woefully. They looked 
as if they had never known what youth or pleasure was, 
but had been the offspring of Nature's dotage, and always 
the gray, decrepit, sapless, miserable creatures who now sat 
stooping round the doctor's table without life enough in 
their souls or bodies to be animated even by the prospect 
of growing young again. They drank off the water and re- 
placed their glasses on the table. 

Assuredly, there was an almost immediate improvement 
in the aspect of the party — not unlike what might have 
been produced by a glass of generous wine — together with 
a sudden glow of cheerful sunshine, brightening over all 
their visages at once. There was a healthful suffusion on 
their cheeks instead of the ashen hue that had made them 
look so corpse-like. They gazed at one another, and fan- 
cied that some magic power had really begun to smooth 
away the deep and sad inscriptions which Father Time had 
been so long engraving on their brows. The widow AVy- 
cherly adjusted her cap, for she felt almost like a woman 

"Give us more of this wondrous water,'* cried they, 


eagerly. "We are younger, but we are still too old. 
Quick ! give us more !" 

"Patience, patience!" quoth Dr. Heidegger, who sat 
watching the experiment with philosophic coolness. " You 
have been a long time growing old ; surely you might be 
content to grow young in half an hour. But the water is 
at your service." Again he filled their glasses with the 
liquor of youth, enough of which still remained in the vase 
to turn half the old people in the city to the age of their 
own grandchildren. 

While the bubbles were yet sparkling on the brim the 
doctor's four guests snatched their glasses from the table 
and swallowed the contents at a single gulp. Was it delu- 
sion? Even while the draught was passing down their 
throats it seemed to have wrought a change on their whole 
systems. Their eyes grew clear and bright ; a dark shade 
deepened among their silvery locks : they sat around the 
table three gentlemen of middle age and a woman hardly 
beyond her buxom prime. 

" My dear widow, you are charming !" cried Colonel Kil- 
ligrew, whose eyes had been fixed upon her face while the 
shadows of age were flitting from it like darkness from the 
crimson daybreak. 

The fair widow knew of old that Colonel Killigrew's 
compliments were not always measured by sober truth ; so 
she started up and ran to the mirror, still dreading that the 
ugly visage of an old woman would meet her gaze. 

Meanwhile, the three gentlemen behaved in such a man- 
ner as proved that the water of the Fountain of Youth - 
possessed some intoxicating qualities — unless, indeed, their 
exhilaration of spirits were merely a lightsome dizziness 
caused by the sudden removal of the weight of years. Mr. 
Gascoigne's mind seemed to run on political topics, but 
whether relating to the past, present or future could not 
easily be determined, since the same ideas and phrases have 
been in vogue these fifty years. Kow he rattled forth full- 


throated sentences about patriotism, national glory and the 
people's right ; now he muttered some perilous stuff or other 
in a sly and doubtful whisper, so cautiously that even his own 
conscience could scarcely catch the secret ; and now, again, he 
spoke in measured accents and a deeply-deferential tone, as 
if a royal ear were listening to his well-turned jxriods. 
Colonel Killigrew all this time had been trolling forth a 
jolly bottle-song and ringing his glass in symphony with the 
chorus, while his eyes wandered toward the buxom figure 
of the widow Wycherly. On the other side of the table, 
Mr. Medbourne was involved in a calculation of dollars and 
cents with which was strangely intermingled a project for 
supplying the East Indies with ice by harnessing a team of 
whales to the polar icebergs. As for the widow AYycherly, 
she stood before the mirror courtesying and simpering to her 
own image and greeting it as the friend whom she loved 
better than all the world besides. She thrust her face close 
to the glass to see whether some long-remembered wrinkle 
or crow's-foot had indeed vanished ; she examined whether 
the snow had so entirely melted from her hair that the ven- 
erable cap could be safely thrown aside. At last, turning 
briskly away, she came with a sort of dancing step to the 

" My dear old doctor," cried she, " pray favor me with 
another glass." 

" Certainly, my dear madam — certainly," replied the com- 
plaisant doctor. "See! I have already filled the glasses." 

There, in fact, stood the four glasses brimful of this won- * 
derful water, the delicate spray of which, as it effervesced 
from the surface, resembled the tremulous glitter of dia- 

It was now so nearly sunset that the chamber had grown 
duskier than ever, but a mild and moonlike splendor 
gleamed from within the vase and rested alike on the four 
guests and on the doctor's venerable figure. He sat in 
a high-backed, elaborately-carved oaken arm-chair with 


a gray dignity of aspect that might have well befitted 
that very Father Time whose power had never been dis- 
puted save by this fortunate company. Even while 
quaffing the third draught of the Fountain of Youth, they 
were almost awed by the expression of his mysterious 
visage. But the next moment the exhilarating gush of 
young life shot through their veins. They were now in the 
happy prime of youth. Age, with its miserable train of cares 
and sorrows and diseases, was remembered only as the trouble 
of a dream from which they had joyously awoke. The fresh 
gloss of the soul, so early lost and without which the world's 
successive scenes had been but a gallery of faded pictures, 
again threw its enchantment over all their prospects. 
They felt like new-created beings in a new-created universe. 

" We are young ! We are young !" they cried, exultingly. 

Youth, like the extremity of age, had effaced the 
strongly-marked characteristics of middle life and mutually 
assimilated them all. They were a group of merry young- 
sters almost maddened with the exuberant frolicsomeness 
of their years. The most singular effect of their gayety 
was an impulse to mock the infirmity and decrepitude of 
which they had so lately been the victims. They laughed 
loudly at their old-fashioned attire — the wide-skirted coats 
and flapped waistcoats of the young men and the ancient 
cap and gown of the blooming girl. One limped across 
the floor like a gouty grandfather ; one set a pair of spec- 
tacles astride of his nose and pretended to pore over the 
black-letter pages of the book of magic ; a third seated 
himself in an arm-chair and strove to imitate the venerable 
dignity of Dr. Heidegger. Then all shouted mirthfully 
and leaped about the room. 

The widow Wycherly — if so fresh a damsel could be 
called a widow — tripped up to the doctor's chair with a 
mischievous merriment in her rosy face. 

"Doctor, you dear old soul," cried she, "get up and 
dance with me ;" and then the four young people laughed 


louder than ever to think what a queer figure the poor old 
doctor would cut. 

" Pray excuse me," answered the doctor, quietly. " I am 
old and rheumatic, and my dancing-days were over long 
ago. But either of these gay young gentlemen will be 
glad of so pretty a partner." 

" Dance with me, Clara," cried Colonel Killigrew. 

" No, no ! I will be her partner," shouted Mr. Gascoigne. 

" She promised me her hand fifty years ago," exclaimed 
Mr. Medbourne. 

They all gathered round her. One caught both her 
hands in his passionate grasp, another threw his arm about 
her waist, the third buried his hand among the glossy curls 
that clustered beneath the widow's cap. Blushing, pant- 
ing, struggling, chiding, laughing, her warm breath fanning 
each of their faces by turns, she strove to disengage her- 
self, yet still remained in their triple embrace. Never was 
there a livelier picture of youthful rivalship, with bewitch- 
ing beauty for the prize. Yet, by a strange deception, 
owing to the duskiness of the chamber and the antique 
dresses which they still wore, the tall mirror is said to have 
reflected the figures of the three old, gray, withered grand- 
sires ridiculously contending for the skinny ugliness of a 
shrivelled grandam. But they were young : their burning 
passions proved them so. 

Inflamed to madness by the coquetry of the girl-widow, 
who neither granted nor quite withheld her favors, the 
three rivals began to interchange threatening glances. 
Still keeping hold of the fair prize, they grappled fiercely 
at one another's throats. As they struggled to and fro the 
table was overturned and the vase dashed into a thousand 
fragments. The precious Water of Youth flowed in a bright 
stream across the floor, moistening the wings of a butterfly 
which, grown old in the decline of summer, had alighted 
there to die. The insect fluttered lightly through the 
chamber and settled on the snowy head of Dr. Heidegger. 


" Come, come, gentlemen ! Come, Madam Wycherly !" 
exclaimed the doctor. " I really must protest against this 

They stood still and shivered, for it seemed as if gray 
Time were calling them back from their sunny youth far 
down into the chill and darksome vale of years. They 
looked at old Dr. Heidegger, who sat in his carved arm- 
chair holding the rose of half a century, which he had res- 
cued from among the fragments of the shattered vase. At 
the motion of his hand the four rioters resumed their seats 
— the more readily because their violent exertions had 
wearied them, youthful though they were. 

*' My poor Sylvia's rose !" ejaculated Dr. Heidegger, 
holding it in the light of the sunset clouds. " It appears 
to be fading again." 

And so it was. Even while the party were looking at 
it the flower continued to shrivel up, till it became as dry 
and fragile as when the doctor had first thrown it into the 
vase. He shook off the few drops of moisture which clung 
to its petals. 

" I love it as well thus as in its dewy freshness," observed 
he, pressing the withered rose to his withered lips. 

While he spoke the butterfly fluttered down from the 
doctor's snowy head and fell upon the floor. His guests 
shivered again. A strange chillness — whether of the body 
or spirit they could not tell — was creeping gradually over 
them all. They gazed at one another, and fancied that each 
fleeting moment snatched away a charm and left a deepen- 
ing furrow where none had been before. Was it an illu- 
sion ? Had the changes of a lifetime been crowded into so 
brief a space, and were they now four aged people sitting 
with their old friend Dr. Heidegger ? 

"Are we grown old again so soon ?" cried they, dolefully. 

In truth, they had. The Water of Youth possessed 
merely a virtue more transient than that of wine ; the de- 
lirium which it created had effervesced away. Yes, they 


were old again. "With a shuddering impulse that showed 
her a woman still, the widow clasped her skinny hands be- 
fore her face and wished that the coffin-lid were over it, 
since it could be no longer beautiful. 

"Yes, friends, ye are old again," said Dr. Heidegger, 
"and, lo! the Water of Youth is all lavished on the 
ground. Well, I bemoan it not ; for if the fountain gushed 
at my very doorstep, I would not stoop to bathe my lips in 
it — no, though its delirium were for years instead of mo- 
ments. Such is the lesson ye have taught me." 

But the doctor's four friends had taught no such lesson 
to themselves. They resolved forthwith to make a pilgrim- 
age to Florida and quaff at morning, noon and night from 
the Fountain of Youth. 





One afternoon last summer, while walking along Wash- 
ington street, my eye was attracted by a sign-board pro- 
truding over a narrow archway nearly opposite the Old 
South Church. The sign represented the front of a stately 
edifice which was designated as the " Old Province House^ 
kept by Thomas Waite." I was glad to be thus reminded 
of a purpose, long entertained, of visiting and rambling 
over the mansion of the old royal governors of Massachu- 
setts, and, entering the arched passage which penetrated 
through the middle of a brick row of shops, a few steps 
transported me from the busy heart of modern Boston into 
a small and secluded court-yard. One side of this space 
was occupied by the square front of the Province House, 
three stories high and surmounted by a cupola, on the top 
of which a gilded Indian was discernible, with his bow 
bent and his arrow on the string, as if aiming at the weath- 
ercock on the spire of the Old South. The figure has kept 
this attitude for seventy years or more, ever since good 
Deacon Drowne, a cunning carver of wood, first stationed 
him on his long sentinel's w^atch over the city. 

The Province House is constructed of brick, which seems 
recently to have been overlaid with a coat of light-colored 
paint. A flight of red freestone steps fenced in by a balus- 
trade of curiously wrought iron ascends from the court-yard 
to the spacious porch, over which is a balcony with an iron 



balustrade of similar pattern and workmanship to that be- 
neath. These letters and figures— " 16 P. S. 79"— are 
wrought into the ironwork of the balcony, and probably- 
express the date of the edifice, with the initials of its found- 
er's name. 

A wide door with double leaves admitted me into the 
hall or entry, on the right of which is the entrance to the 
bar-room. It was in this apartment, I presume, that the 
ancient governors held their levees with vice-regal pomp, 
surrounded by the military men, the counsellors, the judges, 
and other officers of the Crown, while all the loyalty of the 
province thronged to do them honor. But the room in its 
present condition cannot boast even of faded magnificence. 
The panelled wainscot is covered with dingy paint and ac- 
quires a duskier hue from the deep shadow into which the 
Province House is thrown by the brick block that shuts it 
in from Washington street. A ray of sunshine never visits 
this apartment any more than the glare of the festal torches 
which have been extinguished from the era of the Revolu- 
tion. The most venerable and ornamental object is a chim- 
ney-piece set round with Dutch tiles of blue-figured china, 
representing scenes from Scripture, and, for aught I know, 
the lady of Pownall or Bernard may have sat beside this 
fireplace and told her children the story of each blue tile. 
A bar in modern style, well replenished with decanters, 
bottles, cigar-boxes and network bags of lemons, and pro- 
vided with a beer-pump and a soda-fount, extends along one 
side of the room. 

At my entrance an elderly person was smacking his lips 
with a zest which satisfied me that the cellars of the Prov- 
ince House still hold good liquor, though doubtless of other 
vintages than were quaffed by the old governors. After 
sipping a glass of port-sangaree prepared by the skilful 
hands of Mr. Thomas AYaite, I besought that worthy suc- 
cessor and representative of so many historic personages to 
conduct me over their time-honored mansion. He readily 


complied, but, to confess the truth, I was forced to draw 
strenuously upon my imagination in order to find aught 
that was interesting in a house which, without its historic 
associations, would have seemed merely such a tavern as is 
usually favored by the custom of decent city boarders and 
old-fashioned country gentlemen. The chambers, which 
were probably spacious in former times, are now cut up by 
partitions and subdivided into little nooks, each afibrding 
scanty room for the narrow bed and chair and dressing- 
table of a single lodger. The great staircase, however, may 
be termed, without much hyperbole, a feature of grandeur 
and magnificence. It winds through the midst of the house 
by flights of broad steps, each flight terminating in a square 
landing-place, whence the ascent is continued toward the 
cupola. A carved balustrade, freshly painted in the lower 
stories, but growing dingier as we ascend, borders the stair- 
case with its quaintly twisted and intertwined pillars, from 
top to bottom. Up these stairs the military boots, or per- 
chance the gouty shoes, of many a governor have trodden 
as the wearers mounted to the cupola which afforded them 
so wide a view over their metropolis and the surrounding 
country. The cupola is an octagon with several windows, 
and a door opening upon the roof From this station, as I 
pleased myself with imagining, Gage may have beheld his 
disastrous victory on Bunker Hill (unless one of the tri- 
mountains intervened), and Howe have marked the ap- 
proaches of Washington's besieging army, although the 
buildings since erected in the vicinity have shut out almost 
every object save the steeple of the Old South, which seems 
almost within arm's length. Descending from the cupola, 
I paused in the garret to observe the ponderous white-oak 
framework, so much more massive than the frames of 
modern houses, and thereby resembling an antique skeleton. 
The brick walls, the materials of which were imported from 
Holland, and the timbers of the mansion, are still as sound 
as ever, but, the floors and other interior parts being greatly 


decayed, it is contemplated to gut the whole and build a 
new house within the ancient frame- and brickwork. Among 
other inconveniences of the present edifice, mine host men- 
tioned that any jar or motion was apt to shake down the 
dust of ages out of the ceiling of one chamber upon the 
floor of that beneath it. 

"We stepped forth from the great front window into the 
balcony w^here in old times it was doubtless the custom of 
the king's representative to show himself to a loyal popu- 
lace, requiting their huzzas and tossed-up hats with stately 
bendings of his dignified person. In those days the front 
of the Province House looked upon the street, and the 
whole site now" occupied by the brick range of stores, as 
well as the present court-yard, was laid out in grass-plats 
overshadowed by trees and bordered by a wrought-iron 
fence, Now the old aristocratic edifice hides its time-w^orn 
visage behind an upstart modern building ; at one of the 
back windows I observed some pretty taiioresses sewing and 
chatting and laughing, with now and then a careless glance 
toward the balcony. Descending thence, we again entered 
the bar-room, where the elderly gentleman above mentioned 
— the smack of whose lips had spoken so favorably for Mr. 
Waite's good liquor — was still lounging in his chair. He 
seemed to be, if not a lodger, at least a familiar visitor of the 
house who might be supposed to have his regular score at the 
bar, his summer seat at the open window and his prescriptive 
corner at the winter's fireside. Being of a sociable aspect, 
I ventured to address him with a remark calculated to draw 
forth his historical reminiscences, if any such were in his 
mind, and it gratified me to discover that, between memory 
and tradition, the old gentleman was really possessed of 
some very pleasant gossip about the Province House. The 
portion of his talk which chiefly interested me w^as the out- 
line of the following legend. He professed to have received 
it at one or two removes from an eye-witness, but this deri- 
vation, together with the lapse of time, must have afforded 


opportunities for many variations of the narrative ; so that, 
despairing of literal and absolute truth, I have not scrupled 
to make such further changes as seemed conducive to the 
reader's profit and delight. 

At one of the entertainments given at the province-house 
during the latter part of the siege of Boston there passed a 
scene which has never yet been satisfactorily explained. The 
officers of the British army and the loyal gentry of the prov- 
ince, most of whom were collected within the beleaguered 
town, had been invited to a masqued ball, for it was the policy 
for Sir William Howe to hide the distress and danger of the 
period and the desperate aspect of the siege under an ostenta- 
tion of festivity. The spectacle of this evening, if the oldest 
members of the provincial court circle might be believed, 
was the most gay and gorgeous affair that had occurred in 
the annals of the government. The brilliantly-lighted 
apartments were thronged with figures that seemed to have 
stepped from the dark canvas of historic portraits or to 
have flitted forth from the magic pages of romance, or at 
least to have flown hither from one of the London theatres 
without a change of garments. Steeled knights of the Con- 
quest, bearded statesmen of Queen Elizabeth and high- 
ruffed ladies of her court were mingled with characters of 
comedy, such as a parti-colored Merr}^ Andrew jingling his 
cap and bells, a Falstaff" almost as provocative of laughter 
as his prototype, and a Don Quixote with a bean-pole for a 
lance and a pot-lid for a shield. 

But the broadest merriment was excited by a group of 
figures ridiculously dressed in old regimentals which seemed 
to have been purchased at a military rag-fair or pilfered 
from some receptacle of the cast-off" clothes of both the French 
and British armies. Portions of their attire had probably 
been worn at the siege of Louisburg, and the coats of most 
recent cut might have been rent and tattered by sword, ball 
or bayonet as long ago as Wolfe's victory. One of these 


worthies — a tall, lank figure brandishing a rusty sword of 
immense longitude — purported to be no less a personage 
than General George Washington, and the other principal 
officers of the American army, such as Gates, Lee, Putnam, 
Schuyler, AVard and Heath, were represented by similar 
scarecrows. An interview in the mock-heroic style between 
the rebel warriors and the British commander-in-chief was 
received with immense applause, which came loudest of all 
from the loyalists of the colony. 

There was one of the guests, however, who stood apart, 
eying these antics sternly and scornfully at once with a 
frown and a bitter smile. It was an old man formerly of 
high station and great repute in the province, and who had 
been a very famous soldier in his day. Some surprise had 
been expressed that a person of Colonel Jolifie's known 
Whig principles, though now too old to take an active part 
in the contest, should have remained in Boston during the 
siege, and especially that he should consent to show himself 
in the mansion of Sir William Howe. But thither he had 
come with a fair granddaughter under his arm, and there, 
amid all the mirth and buffoonery, stood this stern old fig- 
ure, the best-sustained character in the masquerade, because 
so well representing the antique spirit of his native land. 
The other guests affirmed that Colonel Jolifie's black puri- 
tanical scowl threw a shadow round about him, although, 
in spite of his sombre influence, their gayety continued to 
blaze higher, like — an ominous comparison — the flickering 
brilliancy of a lamp which has but a little while to burn. 

Eleven strokes full half an hour ago had pealed from the 
clock of the Old South, when a rumor was circulated among 
the company that some new spectacle or pageant was about 
to be exhibited which should put a fitting close to the splen- 
did festivities of the night. 

" What new jest has Your Excellency in hand V* asked 
the Reverend Mather Byles, whose Presbyterian scruples 


had not kept him from the entertainment. " Trust me, sir, 
I have already laughed more than beseems my cloth at your 
Homeric confabulation with yonder ragamuffin general of 
the rebels. One other such fit of merriment, and I must 
throw off my clerical wig and band." 

" Not so, good Dr. Byles," answered Sir William Howe ; 
" if mirth were a crime, you had never gained your doctor- 
ate in divinity. As to this new^ foolery, I know no more 
about it than yourself — perhaps not so much. Honestly, 
now, doctor, have you not stirred up the sober brains of 
some of your countrymen to enact a scene in our mas- 
querade ?" 

" Perhaps," slyly remarked the granddaughter of Colonel 
Joliffe, whose high spirit had been stung by many taunts 
against New England — " perhaps we are to have a masque 
of allegorical figures — Victory wdth trophies from Lexing- 
ton and Bunker Hill, Plenty with her overflowing horn to 
typify the present abundance in this good town, and Glory 
with a wreath for His Excellency's brow." 

Sir William Howe smiled at words w^hich he would have 
answered with one of his darkest frowns had they been 
uttered by lips that wore a beard. He was spared the 
necessity of a retort by a singular interruption. A sound 
of music was heard without the house, as if proceeding from 
a full band of military instruments stationed in the street, 
playing, not such a festal strain as was suited to the occa- 
sion, but a slow funeral-march. The drums appeared to be 
muffled, and the trumpets poured forth a wailing breath 
which at once hushed the merriment of the auditors, filling all 
with wonder and some wdth apprehension. The idea occur- 
red to many that either the funeral procession of some great 
personage had halted in front of the province-house, or that 
a corpse in a velvet-covered and gorgeously-decorated coflin 
was about to be borne from the portal. After listening a 
moment, Sir William Howe called in a stern voice to the 
leader of the musicians, who had hitherto enlivened the 


entertainment with gay and lightsome melodies. The man 
was drum-major to one of the British regiments. 

"Dighton/' demanded the general, "what means this 
foolery? Bid your band silence that dead march, or, by 
my word, they shall have sufficient cause for their lugubri- 
ous strains. Silence it, sirrah !" 

" Please, Your Honor," answered the drum-major, whose 
rubicund visage had lost all its color, " the fault is none of 
mine. I and my band are ail here together, and I question 
whether there be a man of us that could play that march 
without book. I never heard it but once before, and that 
was at the funeral of his late Majesty, King George II." 

" Well, well !" said Sir William Howe, recovering his com- 
posure; "it is the prelude to some masquerading antic. 
Let it pass." 

A figure now presented itself, but among the many fan- 
tastic masks that were dispersed through the apartments 
none could tell precisely from whence it came. It was a 
man in an old-fashioned dress of black serge and having 
the aspect of a steward or principal domestic in the house- 
hold of a nobleman or great English landholder. This 
figure advanced to the outer door of the mansion, and, 
throwing both its leaves wide open, withdrew a little to 
one side and looked back toward the grand staircase, as if 
expecting some person to descend. At the same time, the 
music in the street sounded a loud and doleful summons. 
The eyes of Sir William Howe and his guests being di- 
rected to the staircase, there appeared on the uppermost 
landing-place, that was discernible from the bottom, several 
pei'sonages descending toward the door. The foremost was 
a man of stern visage, wearing a steeple-crowned hat and a 
skull-cap beneath it, a dark cloak and huge wrinkled boots 
that came halfvvay up his legs. Under his arm was a 
rolled-up banner which seemed to be the banner of England, 
but strangely rent and torn ; he had a sword in his right 
hand and grasped a Bible in his left. The next figure was 


of milder aspect, yet full of dignity, wearing a broad ruff, 
over which descended a beard, a gown of wrought velvet 
and a doublet and hose of black satin ; he carried a roll of 
manuscript in his hand. Close behind these two came a 
young man of very striking countenance and demeanor 
with deep thought and contemplation on his brow, and per- 
haps a flash of enthusiasm in his eye ; his garb, like that 
of his predecessors, was of an antique fashion, and there 
was a stain of blood upon his ruff. In the same group 
with these were three or four others, all men of dignity and 
evident command, and bearing themselves like personages 
who were accustomed to the gaze of the multitude. It was 
the idea of the beholders that these figures went to join the 
mysterious funeral that had halted in front of the province- 
house, yet that supposition seemed to be contradicted by 
the air of triumph with which they waved their hands as 
they crossed the threshold and vanished through the portal. 

" In the devil's name, vv^hat is this ?" muttered Sir Wil- 
liam Howe to a gentleman beside him, "A procession of 
the regicide judges of King Charles the martyr?" 

" These," said Colonel Joliffe, breaking silence almost for 
the first time that evening — " these, if I interpret them 
aright, are the Puritan governors, the rulers of the old 
original democracy of Massachusetts — Endicott with the 
banner from which he had torn the symbol of subjection, 
and AVinthrop and Sir Henry Vane and Dudley, Haynes, 
Beilingham and Leverett." 

" Why had that young man a stain of blood upon his 
ruff?" asked Miss Joliffe. 

" Because in after-years," answered her grandfather, " he 
laid down the wisest head in Eno-land upon the block for 
the principles of liberty." 

" Will not Your Excellency order out the guard?" whis- 
pered Lord Percy, who, with other British ofiicers, had now 
assembled round the general. " There may be a plot under 
this mummery." 


" Tush ! we have nothing to fear," carelessly replied Sir 
William Howe. " There can be no worse treason in the 
matter than a jest, and that somewhat of the dullest. 
Even were it a sharp and bitter one, our best policy would 
be to laugh it off. See ! here come more of these gentry." 

Another group of characters had now partly descended 
the staircase. The first was a venerable and white-bearded 
patriarch who cautiously felt his way downward with a 
staff. Treading hastily behind him, and stretching forth 
his gauntleted hand as if to grasp the old man's shoulder, 
came a tall soldier-like figure equipped with a plumed cap 
of steel, a bright breastplate and a long sword, which rat- 
tied against the stairs. Next was seen a stout man dressed 
in rich and courtly attire, but not of courtly demeanor ; 
his gait had the swinging motion of a seaman's walk, and, 
chancing to stumble on the staircase, he suddenly grew 
wrathfiil and was heard to mutter an oath. He was fol« 
lowed by a noble-looking personage in a curled wig such as 
are represented in the portraits of Queen Anne's time and 
earlier, and the breast of his coat was decorated with an 
embroidered star. While advancing to the door he bowed 
to the right hand and to the left in a very gracious and in- 
sinuating style, but as he crossed the threshold, unlike the 
early Puritan governors, he seemed to wring his hands 
with sorrow. 

" Prithee, play the part of a chorus, good Dr. Byles,'* 
said Sir William Howe. " What worthies are these ?" 

" If it please Your Excellency, they lived somewhat be- 
fore my day," answered the doctor; "but doubtless our 
friend the colonel has been hand and glove with them." 

" Their living faces I never looked upon," said Colonel 
Joliffe, gravely ; " although I have spoken face to face 
with many rulers of this land, and shall greet yet another 
with an old man's blessing ere I die. But we talk of these 
figures. I take the venerable patriarch to be Bradstreet, the 
last of the Puritans, who was governor at ninety or there- 


abouts. The next is Sir Edmund Andros, a tyrant, as any 
New England schoolboy will tell you, and therefore the 
people cast him down from his high seat into a dungeon. 
Then comes Sir William Phipps, shepherd, cooper, sea-cap- 
tain and governor. May many of his countrymen rise as 
high from as low an origin I Lastly, you saw the gracious 
earl of Bellamont, who ruled us under King William." 

" But what is the meaning of it all ?" asked Lord Percy. 

" Now, were I a rebel," said Miss Joliffe, half aloud, " I 
might fancy that the ghosts of these ancient governors had 
been summoned to form the funeral procession of royal 
authority in New England." 

Several other figures were now seen at the turn of the 
staircase. The one in advance had a thoughtful, anxious 
and somewhat crafty expression of face, and in spite of his 
loftiness of manner, which was evidently the result both of 
an ambitious spirit and of long continuance in high sta- 
tions, he seemed not incapable of cringing to a greater than 
himself. A few steps behind came an officer in a scarlet 
and embroidered uniform cut in a fashion old enouirh to 
have been worn by the duke of Marlborough. His nose 
had a rubicund tinge, which, together with the twinkle of 
his eye, might have marked him as a lover of the wine-cup 
and good-fellowship ; notwithstanding which tokens, he ap- 
peared ill at ease, and often glanced around him as if ap- 
prehensive of some secret mJschief Next came a portly 
gentleman wearing a coat of shaggy cloth lined with silken 
velvet ; he had sense, shrewdness and humor in his face 
and a folio volume under his arm., but his aspect was that 
of a man vexed and tormented beyond all patience and 
harassed almost to death. He went hastily down, and was 
followed by a dignified person dressed in a purple velvet 
.suit with very rich embroidery ; his demeanor would have 
possessed much stateliness, only that a grievous fit of the 
gout compelled him to hobble from stair to stair with con- 
tortions of face and body. When Dr. Byles beheld this 


iigure on tlie staircase, he shivered as with an ague, but 
continued to watch him steadfastly until the gouty gentle- 
man had reached the threshold, made a gesture of anguish 
and despair and vanished into the outer gloom, whither the 
funeral music summoned him. 

*• Governor Belcher — my old patron — in his very shape 
and dress !" gasped Dr. Byles. " This is an awfiil mockery." 

" A tedious foolery, rather," said Sir William Howe, with 
an air of indifference. " But who were the three that pre- 
ceded him?" 

" Governor Dudley, a cunning politician ; yet his craft 
once brought him to a prison," replied Colonel Joliffe. 
" Governor Shute, formerly a colonel under Marlborough, 
and whom the people frightened out of the province, and 
learned Governor Burnet, whom the legislature tormented 
into a mortal fever." 

" Methinks they were miserable men — these royal gov- 
ernors of Massachusetts," observed Miss Joliffe. " Heavens I 
how dim the light grows !" 

It was certainly a fact that the large lamp which illumi- 
nated the staircase now burned dim and duskily ; so that 
several figures which passed hastily down the stairs and 
went forth from the porch appeared rather like shadows 
than persons of fleshly substance. 

Sir William Howe and his guests stood at the doors of 
the contiguous apartments watching the progress of this 
singular pageant with various emotions of anger, contempt 
or half-acknowledged fear, but still with an anxious curios- 
ity. The shapes which now seemed hastening to join the 
mysterious procession were recognized rather by striking 
peculiarities of dress or broad characteristics of manner 
than by any perceptible resemblance of features to their 
prototypes. Their faces, indeed, were invariably kept in 
deep shadow, but Dr. Byles and other gentlemen who had 
long been familiar with the successive rulers of the province 
were heard to whisper the names of Shirley, of Pownall, of 


Sir Francis Bernard and of the well-remembered Hutchin- 
son, thereby confessing that the actors, whoever they might 
be, in this spectral march of governors had succeeded in 
putting on some distant portraiture of the real personages. 
As they vanished from the door, still did these shadows toss 
their arms into the gloom of night with a dread expression 
of woe. Following the mimic representative of Hutchin- 
son came a military figure holding before his face the cocked 
hat which he had taken from his powdered head, but his 
epaulettes and other insignia of rank were those of a gen- 
eral officer, and something in his mien reminded the be- 
holders of one who had recently been master of the province- 
house and chief of all the land. 

" The shape of Gage, as true as in a looking-glass !" ex- 
claimed Lord Percy, turning pale. 

" No, surely," cried Miss JolifFe, laughing hysterically ; 
" it could not be Gage, or Sir William would have greeted 
his old comrade in arms. Perhaps he will not suffer the 
next to pass unchallenged." 

"Of that be assured, young lady," answered Sir William 
Howe, fixing his eyes with a very marked expression upon 
the immovable visage of her grandfather. " I have long 
enough delayed to pay the ceremonies of a host to these 
departing guests ; the next that takes his leave shall re- 
ceive due courtesy." 

A wild and dreary burst of music came through the open 
door. It seemed as it the procession, which had been grad- 
ually filling up its ranks, were now about to move, and that 
this loud peal of the wailing trumpets and roll of the muf- 
fled drums were a call to some loiterer to make haste. 
Many eyes, by an irresistible impulse, were turned upon Sir 
William Howe, as if it were he whom the dreary music 
summoned to the funeral of departed power. 

" See ! here comes the last," whispered Miss Joliffe, point- 
ing her tremulous finger to the staircase. 

A figure had come into view as if descending the stairs, 


although so dusky was the region whence It emerged some 
of the spectators fancied that they had seen this human 
shape suddenly moulding itself amid the gloom. Down- 
ward the figure came with a stately and martial tread, and, 
reaching the lowest stair, was observed to be a tall man 
booted and wrapped in a military cloak, which was drawn 
up around the face so as to meet the flapped brim of a laced 
hat ; the features, therefore, were completely hidden. But 
the British officers deemed that they had seen that military 
cloak before, and even recognized the frayed embroidery on 
the collar, as well as the gilded scabbard of a sword which 
protruded from the folds of the cloak and glittered in a 
vivid gleam of light. Apart from these trifling particulars 
there were characteristics of gait and bearing which im- 
pelled the wondering guests to glance from the shrouded 
figure to Sir William Howe, as if to satisfy themselves that 
their host had not suddenly vanished from the midst of 
them. With a dark flush of wrath upon his brow, they 
saw the general draw his sword and advance to meet the 
figure in the cloak before the latter had stepped one pace 
upon the floor. 

" Villain, unmuffle yourself !" cried he. " You pass no 

The figure, without blenching a hair's-breadth from the 
sword which was pointed at his breast, made a solemn pause 
and lowered the cape of the cloak from about his face, yet 
not sufficiently for the spectators to catch a glimpse of it. 
But Sir William Howe had evidently seen enough. The 
sternness of his countenance gave place to a look of wild 
amazement, if not horror, while he recoiled several steps 
from the figure and let fall his sword upon the floor. The 
martial shape again drew the cloak about his features and 
passed on, but, reaching the threshold with his back toward 
the spectators, he was seen to stamp his foot and shake his 
clenched hands in the air. It was afterward affirmed that 
Sir William Howe had repeated that selfsame gesture of 
rage and sorrow when for the last time, and as the last 


royal governor, he passed through the portal of the province- 

" Hark ! The procession moves," said Miss JolifFe. 

The music was dying away along the street, and its dis- 
mal strains were mingled with the knell of midnight from 
the steeple of the Old South and with the roar of artillery 
which announced that the beleaguered army of Washington 
had intrenched itself upon a nearer height than before. As 
the deep boom of the cannon smote upon his ear Colonel 
Joliffe raised himself to the full height of his aged form and 
smiled sternly on the British general. 

" Would Your Excellency inquire further into the mys- 
tery of the pageant ?" said he. 

*' Take care of your gray head !" cried Sir William Howe, 
fiercely, though with a quivering lip. " It has stood too 
long on a traitor's shoulders." 

" You must make haste to chop it off, then," calmly re- 
plied the colonel, " for a few hours longer, and not all the 
power of Sir William Howe, nor of his master, shall cause 
one of these gray hairs to fall. The empire of Britain in 
this ancient province is at its last gasp to-night ; almost 
while I speak it is a dead corpse, and methinks the shadows 
of the old governors are fit mourners at its funeral." 

With these words Colonel Joliffe threw on his cloak, and, 
drawing his granddaughter's arm within his own, retired 
from the last festival that a British ruler ever held in the 
old province of Massachusetts Bay. It was supposed that 
the colonel and the young lady possessed some secret intel- 
ligence in regard to the mysterious pageant of that night. 
However this might be, such knowledge has never become 
general. The actors in the scene have vanished into deep- 
er obscurity than even that wild Indian band who scattered 
the cargoes of the tea-ships on the waves and gained a place 
in history, yet left no names. But superstition, among other 
legends of this mansion, repeats the wondrous tale that on 
the anniversary night of Britain's discomfiture the ghosts 
of the ancient governors of Massachusetts still glide through 


the portal of the Province House. And last of all comes a 
figure shrouded in a military cloak, tossing his clenched 
hands into the air and stamping his iron-shod boots upon 
the broad freestone steps with a semblance of feverish de- 
spair, but without the sound of a foot-tramp. 

When the truth-telling accents of the elderly gentleman 
were hushed, I drew a long breath and looked round the 
room, striving with the best energy of my imagination to 
throw a tinge of romance and historic grandeur over the 
realities of the scene. But my nostrils snuffed up a scent 
of cigar-smoke, clouds of which the narrator had emitted 
by way of visible emblem, I suppose, of the nebulous ob- 
scurity of his tale. Moreover, my gorgeous fantasies were 
woefully disturbed by the rattling of the spoon in a tumbler 
of whiskey-punch which Mr. Thomas Waite was mingling 
for a customer. Nor did it add to the picturesque appear- 
ance of the panelled walls that the slate of the Brookline 
stage was suspended against them, instead of the armorial 
escutcheon of some far-descended governor. A stage-driver 
sat at one of the windows reading a penny paper of the day 
— the Boston Times — and presenting a figure which could 
nowise be brought into any picture of " Times in Boston " 
seventy or a hundred years ago. On the window-seat lay a 
bundle neatly done up in brown paper, the direction of 
which I had the idle curiosity to read : " Miss Susan 
HuGGiNs, at the Province House." A pretty chamber- 
maid, no doubt. In truth, it is desperately hard work when 
we attempt to throw the spell of hoar antiquity over locali- 
ties with which the living world and the day that is passing 
over us have aught to do. Yet, as I glanced at the stately 
staircase down which the procession of the old governors 
had descended, and as I emerged through the venerable 
portal whence their figures had preceded me, it gladdened 
me to be conscious of a thrill of awe. Then, diving through 
the narrow archway, a few strides transported me into the 
densest throng of Washington street. 


The old legendary guest of the Province House abode in 
my remembrance from midsummer till January. One idle 
evening last winter, confident that he would be found in the 
snuggest corner of the bar-room, I resolved to pay him an- 
other visit, hoping to deserve well of my country by snatch- 
ing from oblivion some else unheard-of fact of history. The 
night was chill and raw, and rendered boisterous by almost 
a gale of wind which whistled along Washington street, 
causing the gaslights to flare and flicker within the lamps. 

As I hurried onward my fancy was busy with a compari- 
son between the present aspect of the street and that which 
it probably wore when the British governors inhabited the 
mansion whither I was noAV going. Brick edifices in those 
times were few till a succession of destructive fires had swept, 
and swept again, the wooden dwellings and warehouses from 
the most populous quarters of the town. The buildings 
stood insulated and independent, not, as now, merging their 
separate existences into connected ranges with a front of 
tiresome identity, but each possessing features of its own, as 
if the owner's individual taste had shaped it, and the whole 
presenting a picturesque irregularity the absence of which 
is hardly compensated by any beauties of our modern arch- 
itecture. Such a scene, dimly vanishing from the eye by 
the ray of here and there a tallow candle glimmering through 
the small panes of scattered windows, would form a sombre 
contrast to the street as I beheld it with the gaslights blazing 



from corner to corner, flaming within the shops and throw- 
ing a noonday brightness through the huge plates of glass. 
But the black, lowering sky, as I turned my eyes upward, 
-wore, doubtless, the same visage as when it frowned upon 
the ante-Revolutionary New Englanders. The Avintry blast 
had the same shriek that was familiar to their ears. The 
Old South Church, too, still pointed its antique spire into 
the darkness and was lost between earth and heaven, and, 
as I passed, its clock, which had warned so many generations 
how transitory was their lifetime, spoke heavily and slow 
the same unregarded moral to myself "Only seven 
o'clock !" thought I. " My old friend's legends will scarcely 
kill the hours 'twixt this and bedtime." 

Passing through the narrow arch, I crossed the court- 
yard, the confined precincts of which were made visible by 
a lantern over the portal of the Province House. On en- 
tering the bar-room, I found, as I expected, the old tradition- 
monger seated by a special good fire of anthracite, compel- 
ling clouds of smoke from a corpulent cigar. He recognized 
me with evident pleasure, for my rare j^roperties as a patient 
listener invariably make me a favorite with elderly gentle- 
men and ladies of narrative propensites. Drawing a chair 
to the fire, I desired mine host to favor us with a glass 
apiece of whiskey-punch, which was speedily prepared, 
steaming hot, with a slice of lemon at the bottom, a dark- 
red stratum of port wine upon the surface and a sprinkling 
of nutmeg strewn over all. As we touched our glasses to- 
gether, my legendary friend made himself known to me as 
Mr. Bela Tiffany, and I rejoiced at the oddity of the name, 
because it gave his image and character a sort of individu- 
ality in my conception. The old gentleman's draught acted 
as a solvent upon his memory, so that it overflowed with 
tales, traditions, anecdotes of famous dead people and traits 
of ancient manners, some of which were childish as a nurse's 
lullaby, while others might have been worth the notice of 
the grave historian. Nothing impressed me more than a 


story of a black mysterious picture which used to hang in one 
of the chambers of the Province House, directly above the 
room where we were now sitting. The following is as cor- 
rect a version of the fact as the reader would be likely to 
obtain from any other source, although, assuredly, it has a 
tinge of *romance approaching to the marvellouSo 

In one of the apartments of the province-house there was 
long preserved an ancient picture the frame of which was as 
black as ebony, and the canvas itself so dark with age, 
damp and smoke that not a touch of the painter's art could 
be discerned. Time had thrown an impenetrable veil over 
it and left to tradition and flible and conjecture to say what 
had once been there portrayed. During the rule of many 
successive governors it had hung, by prescriptive and un- 
disputed right, over the mantelpiece of the same chamber, 
and it still kept its place when Lieutenant-governor Hutch- 
inson assumed the administration of the province on the de- 
parture of Sir Francis Bernard. 

The lieutenant-governor sat one afternoon resting his 
head against the carved back of his stately arm-chair and 
gazing up thoughtfully at the void blackness of the picture. 
It was scarcely a time for such inactive musing, when affairs 
of the deepest moment required the ruler's decision ; for 
within that very hour Hutchinson had received intelligence 
of the arrival of a British fleet bringing three regiments 
from Halifax to overawe the insubordination of the people. 
These troops awaited his permission to occupy the fortress 
of Castle William and the town itself, yet, instead of affix- 
ing his signature to an official order, there sat the lieutenant- 
governor so carefully scrutinizing the black waste of canvas 
that his demeanor attracted the notice of two young persons 
who attended him. One, wearing a military dress of buff, 
was his kinsman, Francis Lincoln, the provincial captain of 
Castle William ; the other, who sat on a low stool beside his 
chair, was Alice Vane, his favorite niece. She was clad 


entirely in white — a pale, ethereal creature who, though a 
native of New England, had been educated abroad and 
seemed not merely a stranger from another clime, but al- 
most a being from another world. For several years, until 
left an orphan, she had dwelt with her father in sunny 
Italy, and there had acquired a taste and enthusiasm for 
sculpture and painting which she found few opportunities 
of gratifying in the undecorated dwellings of the colonial | 
gentry. It was said that the early productions of her own 
pencil exhibited no inferior genius, though perhaps the rude 
atmosphere of New England had cramped her hand and 
dimmed the glowing colors of her fancy. But, observing 
her uncle's steadfast gaze, which appeared to search through 
the mist of years to discover the subject of the picture, her 
curiosity was excited. 

" Is it known, my dear uncle," inquired she, " what this 
old picture once represented ? Possibly, could it be made 
visible, it might prove a masterpiece of some great artist ; 
else why has it so long held such a conspicuous place ?" 

As her uncle, contrary to his usual custom — for he was 
as attentive to all the humors and caprices of Alice as if 
she had been his own best-beloved child — did not immedi- 
diately reply, the young captain of Castle William took 
that office upon himself. 

*' This dark old square of canvas, my fair cousin," said he, 
" has been an heirloom in the province-house from time im- 
memorial. As to the painter, I can tell you nothing ; but 
if half the stories told of it be true, not one of the great 
Italian masters has ever produced so marvellous a piece of 
work as that before you." 

Captain Lincoln proceeded to relate some of the strange 
fables and fantasies which, as it was impossible to refute 
them by ocular demonstration, had grown to be articles of 
popular belief in reference to this old picture. One of the 
wildest, and at the same time the best-accredited, accounts 
stated it to be an original and authentic portrait of the evil 


one, taken at a witch-meeting near Salem, and that its strong 
and terrible resemblance had been confirmed by several of 
the confessing wizards and witches at their trial in open 
court. It was likewise affirmed that a familiar spirit or 
demon abode behind the blackness of the picture, and had 
shown himself at seasons of public calamity to more than 
one of the royal governors. Shirley, for instance, had be- 
held this ominous apparition on the eve of General Aber- 
crombie's shameful and bloody defeat under the walls of 
Ticonderoga. Many of the servants of the province-house 
had caught glimpses of a visage frowning down upon them 
at morning or evening twilight, or in the depths of night 
while raking up the fire that glim^mered on the hearth be- 
neath, although, if any were bold enough to hold a torch 
before the picture, it would appear as black and undistin- 
guishable as j cr The oldest inhabitant of Boston recol- 
lected that his father — in* whose days the portrait had not 
wholly faded out of sight — had once looked upon it, but 
would never suffer himself to be questioned as to the face 
which was there represented. In connection with such 
stories, it was remarkable that over the top of the frame 
there were some ragged remnants of black silk, indicating 
that a veil had formerly hung down before the picture until 
the duskiness of time had so effectually concealed it. But, 
after all, it was the most singular part of the affair that so 
many of the pompous governors of Massachusetts had 
allowed the obliterated picture to remain in the state-cham- 
ber of the province-house. 

" Some of these fables are really awful," observed Alice 
Vane, who had occasionally shuddered as well as smiled 
while her cousin spoke. " It would be almost worth while 
to wipe away the black surface of the canvas, since the 
original picture can hardly be so formidable as those which 
fancy paints instead of it." 

" But would it be possible," inquired her cousin, " to restore 
this dark picture to its pristine hues ?" 


" Such arts are known in Italy," said Alice. 

The lieutenant-governor had roused himself from his ab- 
stracted mood, and listened with a smile to the conversation 
of his young relatives. Yet his voice had something pecu- 
liar in its tones when he undertook the explanation of the 

" I am sorry, Alice, to destroy your faith in the legends 
of which you are so fond," remarked he, " but my antiqua- 
rian researches have long since made me acquainted with 
the subject of this picture — if picture it can be called — 
which is no more visible, nor ever will be, than the face of 
the long-buried man whom it once represented. It was the 
portrait of Edward Randolph, the founder of this house, a 
person famous in the history of New England." 

*' Of that Edward Randolph," exclaimed Cp")tain Lincoln, 
" who obtained the repeal of the first pic /iJicial charter, 
under which our forefathers had enjoyed almost democratic 
privileges — he that was styled the arch-enemy of New Eng- 
land, and whose memory is still held in detestation as the 
destroyer of our liberties?" 

"It was the same Randolph," answered Hutchinson, mov- 
ing uneasily in his chair. '' It was his lot to taste the bitter- 
ness of popular odium." 

"Our annals tell us," continued the captain of Castle 
William, " that the curse of the people followed this Ran- 
dolph where he went and wrought evil in all the subsequent 
events of his life, and that its effect was seen, likewise, in 
the manner of his death. They say, too, that the inward 
misery of that curse worked itself outward and was visible 
on the wretched man's countenance, making it too horrible 
to be looked upon. If so, and if this picture truly repre- 
sented his aspect, it was in mercy that the cloud of black- 
ness has gathered over it." 

" These traditions are folly to one who has proved, as I 
have, how little of historic truth lies at the bottom," said 
the lieutenant-governor. "As regards the life and character 


of Edward Randolph, too implicit credence has been given 
to Dr. Cotton Mather, who — I must say it, though some of 
his blood runs in my veins — has filled our early history 
with old women's tales as fanciful and extravagant as those 
of Greece or Rome." 

"And yet," whispered Alice Vane, " may not such fables 
have a moral ? And methinks, if the visage of this portrait 
be so dreadful, it is not without a cause that it has hung so 
long in a chamber of the province-house. When the rulers 
feel themselves irresponsible, it were well that they should 
be reminded of the awful weight of a people's curse." 

The lieutenant-governor started and gazed for a moment 
at his niece, as if her girlish fantasies had struck upon some 
feeling in his own breast which all his policy or principles 
could not entirely subdue. He knew, indeed, that Alice, 
in spite of her foreign education, retained the native sym- 
pathies of a New England girl. 

" Peace, silly child !" cried he, at last, more harshly than 
he had ever before addressed the gentle Alice. " The re- 
buke of a king is more to be dreaded than the clamor of a 
wild, misguided multitude. — Captain Lincoln, it is decided : 
the fortress of Castle "William must be occupied by the 
royal troops. The two remaining regiments shall be bil- 
leted in the town or encamped upon the Common. It is 
time, aft'er years of tumult, and almost rebellion, that His 
Majesty's government should have a wall of strength about 

" Trust, sir — trust yet a while to the loyalty of the peo- 
ple," said Captain Lincoln, " nor teach them that they can 
ever be on other terms with British soldiers than those of 
brotherhood, as when they fought side by side through the 
French war. Do not convert the streets of your native 
town into a camp. Think twice before you give up old 
Castle William, the key of the province, into other keeping 
than that of true-born New Englanders." 

" Young man, it is decided," repeated Hutchinson, rising 


from his chair. "A British officer will be in attendance 
this evening to receive the necessary instructions for the 
disposal of the troops. Your presence also will be re- 
quired. Till then, farewell." 

With these words the lieutenant-governor hastily left the 
room, while Alice and her cousin more slowly followed, 
whispering together, and once pausing to glance back at 
the mysterious picture. The captain of Castle William 
fancied that the girl's air and mien were such as might 
have belonged to one of those spirits of fable — fairies or 
creatures of a more antique mythology — who sometimes 
mingled their agency with mortal affairs, half in caprice, 
yet with a sensibility to human weal or woe. As he held 
the door for her to pass Alice beckoned to the picture and 

" Come forth, dark and evil shape !" cried she. " It is 
thine hour." 

In the evening Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson sat in the 
same chamber where the foregoing scene had occurred, sur- 
rounded by several persons whose various interests had sum- 
moned them together. There were the selectmen of Boston 
— plain patriarchal fathers of the people, excellent repre- 
sentatives of the old puritanical founders whose sombre 
strength had stamped so deep an impress upon the New 
England character. Contrasting with these were one or 
two members of council, richly dressed in the white wigs, 
the embroidered waistcoats and other magnificence of the 
time, and making a somewhat ostentatious display of 
courtier-like ceremonial. In attendance, likewise, was a 
major of the British army, awaiting the lieutenant-gover- 
nor's orders for the landing of the troops, which still re- 
mained on board the transports. The captain of Castle 
William stood beside Hutchinson's chair, with folded arms, 
glancing rather haughtily at the British officer by whom 
he was soon to be superseded in his command. On a table 
in the centre of the chamber stood a branched silver candle- 


stick, throwing down the glow of half a dozen waxlights 
upon a paper apparently ready for the lieutenant-governor's 

Partly shrouded in the voluminous folds of one of the 
window-curtains, which fell from the ceiling to the floor, 
was seen the white drapery of a lady's robe. It may ap- 
pear strange that Alice Vane should have been there at 
such a time, but there was something so childlike, so way- 
ward, in her singular character, so apart from ordinary 
rules, that her presence did not surprise the few who noticed 
it. Meantime, the chairman of the selectmen was address- 
ing to the lieutenant-governor a long and solemn protest 
against the reception of the British troops into the town. 

"And if Your Honor," concluded this excellent but 
somewhat prosy old gentleman, " shall see fit to persist in 
bringing these mercenary sworders and musketeers into our 
quiet streets, not on our heads be the responsibility. Think, 
sir, while there is yet time, that if one drop of blood be 
shed, that blood shall be an eternal stain upon Your Honor's 
memory. You, sir, have written with an able pen the 
deeds of our forefathers ; the more to be desired is it, there- 
fore, that yourself should deserve honorable mention as a 
true patriot and upright ruler when your own doings shall 
be written down in history." 

" I am not insensible, my good sir, to the natural desire 
to stand well in the annals of my country," replied Hutch- 
inson, controlling his impatience into courtesy, " nor know 
I any better method of attaining that end than by with- 
standing the merely temporary spirit of mischief which, 
with your pardon, seems to have infected older men than 
myself. Would you have me wait till the mob shall sack 
the province-house as they did my private mansion ? Trust 
me, sir, the time may come when you will be glad to flee 
for protection to the king's banner, the raising of which is 
now so distasteful to you." 

" Yes," said the British major, who was impatiently ex- 


pecting the lieutenant-governor's orders. " The dema- 
gogues of this province have raised the devil, and cannot 
lay him again. We will exorcise him in God's name and 
the king's." 

" If you meddle with the devil, take care of his claws," 
answered the captain of Castle William, stirred by the taunt 
against his countrymen. 

"Craving your pardon, young sir," said the venerable 
selectman, " let not au evil spirit enter into your words. 
We will strive against the oppressor with prayer and fast- 
ing, as our forefathers would have done. Like them, more- 
over, we will submit to whatever lot a wise Providence may 
send us — always after our own best exertions to amend it." 

"And there peep forth the devil's claws!" muttered 
Hutchinson, who well understood the nature of Puritan 
submission. "This matter shall be expedited forthwith. 
AVhen there shall be a sentinel at every corner and a court 
of guard before the town-house, a loyal gentleman may 
venture to walk abroad. What to me is the outcry of a 
mob in this remote province of the realm ? The king is 
my master, and England is my countiy ; upheld by their 
armed strength, I set my foot upon the rabble and defy 

He snatched a pen and was about to affix his signature 
to the paper that lay on the table, when the captain of 
Castle William placed his hand upon his shoulder. The 
freedom of the action, so contrary to the ceremonious re- 
spect which was then considered due to rank and dignity, 
awakened general surprise, and in none more than in the 
lieutenant-governor himself Looking angrily up, he per- 
ceived that his young relative was pointing his finger to 
the opposite wall. Hutchinson's eye followed the signal, 
and he saw Avhat had hitherto been unobserved — that a 
black silk curtain \^as suspended before the mysterious pic- 
ture, so as completely to conceal it. His thoughts imme- 
diately recurred to the scene of the preceding afternoon, and 


in his surprise, confused by indistinct emotions, yet sensible 
that his niece must have had an agency in this phenomenon, 
he called loudly upon her : 

" Alice ! Come hither, Alice !" 

Ko sooner had he spoken than Alice Vane glided from 
her station, and, pressing one hand across her eyes, with the 
other snatched away the sable curtain that concealed the 
portrait. An exclamation of surprise burst from every be- 
holder, but the lieutenant-governor's voice had a tone of 

" By Heaven !" said he, in a low inward murmur, speak- 
ing rather to himself than to those around him ; " if the 
spirit of Edward Randolph were to appear among us from 
the place of torment, he could not wear more of the terrors 
of hell upon his face." 

" For some wise end," said the aged selectman, solemnly, 
" hath Providence scattered away the mist of years that 
had so long hid this dreadful effigy. Until this hour no 
living man hath seen what we behold." 

Within the antique frame which so recently had enclosed 
a sable waste of canvas now appeared a visible picture — 
still dark, indeed, in its hues and shadings, but thrown for- 
ward in strong relief. It was a half-length figure of a gen- 
tleman in a rich but very old-fashioned dress of embroi- 
dered velvet, Tvdth a broad ruff and a beard, and wearing a 
hat the brim of which overshadowed his forehead. Beneath 
this cloud the eyes had a peculiar glare which was almost 
lifelike. The whole portrait started so distinctly out of the 
background that it had the effect of a person looking do^vn 
from the wall at the astonished and awe-stricken spectators. 
The expression of the face, if any words can convey an idea 
of it, was that of a wretch detected in some hideous guilt 
and exposed to the bitter hatred and laughter and wither- 
ing scorn of a va^t surrounding multitude. There was the 
struggle of defiance, beaten down a.nd overwhelmed by the 
crushing weight of ignominy. The torture of the soul had 


come forth upon the countenance. It seemed as if the pic- 
ture, while hidden behind the cloud of immemorial years, 
had been all the time acquiring an in tenser depth and dark- 
ness of expression, till now it gloomed forth again and 
threw its evil omen over the present hour. Such, if the 
wild legend may be credited, was the portrait of Edward 
Randolph as he appeared when a people's curse had wrought 
its influence upon his nature. 

" 'Twould drive me mad, that awful face," said Hutchin- 
son, who seemed fascinated by the contemplation of it. 

" Be Avarned, then," whispered Alice. " He trampled on 
a people's rights. Behold his punishment, and avoid a 
crime like his." 

The lieutenant-governor actually trembled for an instant, 
but, exerting his energy — which was not, however, his most 
characteristic feature — he strove to shake off the spell of 
Randolph's countenance. 

" Girl," cried he, laughing bitterly, as he turned to Alice, 
" have you brought hither your painter's art, your Italian 
spirit of intrigue, your tricks of stage-effect, and think to 
influence the councils of rulers and the affairs of nations 
by such shallow contrivances ? See here !" 

" Stay yet a while," said the selectman as Hutchinson 
again snatched the pen ; " for if ever mortal man received 
a warning from a tormented soul, Your Honor is that man." 

"Away !" answered Hutchinson, fiercely. " Though yon- 
der senseless picture cried 'Forbear!' it should not move 

Casting a scowl of defiance at the pictured face — which 
seemed at that moment to intensify the horror of its miser- 
able and wicked look — he scrawled on the paper, in charac- 
ters that betokened it a deed of desperation, the name of 
Thomas Hutchinson. Then, it is said, he shuddered, as if 
that signature had granted away his salvation. 

" It is done," said he, and placed his hand upon his brow. 

" May Heaven forgive the deed !" said the soft, sad ac- 


cents of Alice Vane, like the voice of a good spirit flitting 

When morning came, there was a stifled whisper through 
the household, and spreading thence about the town, that 
the dark mysterious picture had started from the wall and 
spoken face to face with Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson. 
If such a miracle had been wrought, however, no traces of 
it remained behind ; for within the antique frame nothing 
could be discerned save the impenetrable cloud which had 
covered the canvas since the memory of man. If the figure 
had, indeed, stepped forth, it had fled back, spirit-like, at 
the day-dawn, and hidden itself behind a century's obscur- 
ity. The truth probably was that Alice Vane's secret for 
restoring the hues of the picture had merely effected a tem- 
porary renovation. But those who in that brief inter- 
val had beheld the awful visage of Edward Kandolph de- 
sired no second glance, and ever afterward trembled at the 
recollection of the scene, as if an evil spirit had aj^peared 
visibly among them. And, as for Hutchinson, when, far 
over the ocean, his dying-hour drew on, he gasped for 
breath and complained that he was choking with the blood 
of the Boston Massacre, and Francis Lincoln, the former 
captain of Castle William, who was standing at his bedside, 
perceived a likeness in his frenzied look to that of Edward 
Randolph. Did his broken spirit feel at that dread hour 
the tremendous burden of a people's curse ? 

At the conclusion of this miraculous legend I inquired 
of mine host whether the picture still remained in the cham- 
ber over our heads, but Mr. Tiffany informed me that it had 
long since been removed, and was supposed to be hidden in 
some out-of-the-way corner of the New England Museum. 
Perchance some curious antiquary may light upon it there, 
and, with the assistance of Mr. Howorth, the picture- 
cleaner, may supply a not unnecessary proof of the authen- 
ticity of the facts here set down. 


During the progress of the story a stoiin had been gath- 
ering abroad and raging and rattling so loudly in the upper 
regions of the Province House that it seemed as if all the 
old governors and great men were running riot above stairs 
while Mr. Bela Tiffany babbled of them below. In thvj 
course of generations, when many people have lived and 
died in an ancient house, the whistling of the wind through 
its crannies and the creaking of its beams and rafters be- 
come strangely like the tones of the human voice,' or thun- 
dering laughter, or heavy footsteps treading the deserted 
chambers. It is as if the echoes of half a century were 
revived. Such were the ghostly sounds that roared and 
murmured in our ears when I took leave of the circle 
round the fireside of the Province House and, plunging 
down the doorsteps, fought my way homeward against a 
drifting snow-storm. 


Mine excellent friend the landlord of the Province 
House was pleased the ether evening to invite Mr. Tiffany 
and myself to an oyster-supper. This slight mark of re- 
spect and gratitude, as he handsomely observed, was far 
less than the ingenious tale-teller, and I, the humble note- 
taker of his narratives, had fairly earned by the public 
notice which our joint lucubrations had attracted to his 
establishment. Many a cigar had been smoked within his 
premises, many a glass of wine or more potent aqua vitce 
had been quaffed, many a dinner had been eaten, by curi- 
ous strangers who, save for the fortunate conjunction of 
Mr. Tiffany and me, would never have ventured through 
that darksome avenue which gives access to the historic 
precincts of the Province House. In short, if any credit 
be due to the courteous assurances of Mr. Thomas Waite, 
we had brought his forgotten mansion almost as effectually 
into public view as if we had thrown down the vulgar 
range of shoe-shops and dry-good stores which hides its 
aristocratic front from Washington street. It may be un- 
advisable, however, to speak too loudly of the increased 
custom of the house, lest Mr. Waite should find it difficult 
to renew the lease on so favorable terms as heretofore. 

Being thus welcomed as benefactors, neither Mr. Tiffany 
nor myself felt any scruple in doing full justice to the good 
things that were set before us. If the feast were less mag- 
nificent than those same panelled walls had witnessed in a 



bygone century ; if mine host presided with somewhat less 
of state than might have befitted a successor of the royal 
governors ; if the guests made a less imposing show than 
the bewigged and powdered and embroidered dignitaries 
Avho erst banqueted at the gubernatorial table and now 
sleep within their armorial tombs on Copp's Hill or round 
King's Chapel, — yet never, I may boldly say, did a more com- 
fortable little party assemble in the province-house from 
Queen Anne's days to the Revolution. The occasion was 
rendered more interesting by the presence of a venerable 
personage whose own actual reminiscences went back to the 
epoch of Gage and Howe, and even supplied him with a 
doubtful anecdote or two of Hutchinson. He was one of 
that small, and now all but extinguished, class whose attach- 
ment to royalty, and to the colonial institutions and customs 
that were connected with it, had never yielded to the demo- 
cratic heresies of after-times. The young queen of Britain 
has not a more loyal subject in her realm — perhaps not one 
who would kneel before her throne with such reverential 
love — as this old grandsire whose head has whitened be- 
neath the mild sway of the republic which still in his mel 
lower moments he terms a usurpation. Yet prejudices so 
obstinate have not made him an ungentle or impracticable 
companion. If the truth must be told, the life of the aged 
loyalist has been of such a scrambling and unsettled cha- 
racter — he has had so little choice of friends and been so 
often destitute of any — that I doubt whether he would 
refuse a cup of kindness with either Oliver Cromwell or 
John Hancock, to say nothing of any democrat now upon 
the stage. In another paper of this series I may perhaps 
give the reader a closer glimpse of his portrait. 

Our host in due season uncorked a bottle of Madeira of 
such exquisite perfume and admirable flavor that he surely 
must have discovered it in an ancient bin down deep be- 
neath the deepest cellar where some jolly old butler stored 
away the governor's choicest wine and forgot to reveal the 


secret on his death-bed. Peace to his red-nosed ghost and 
a libation to his memory! This precious liquor was im- 
bibed by Mr. Tiffany with peculiar zest, and after sipping 
the third glass it was his pleasure to give us one of the odd- 
est legends which he had yet raked from the storehouse 
where he keeps such matters. With some suitable adorn- 
ments from my own fancy, it ran pretty much as follows. 

Not long after Colonel Shute had assumed the govern- 
ment of Massachusetts Bay — now nearly a hundred and 
twenty years ago — a young lady of rank and fortune ar- 
rived from England to claim his protection as her guardian. 
He was her distant relative, but the nearest wdio had sur- 
vived the gradual extinction of her family ; so that no more 
eligible shelter could be found for the rich and high-born 
Lady Eleanore RochclifFe than within the province-house 
of a Transatlantic colony. The consort of Governor Shute, 
moreover, had been as a mother to her childhood, and was 
now anxious to receive her in the hope that a beautiful young 
woman would be exposed to infinitely less peril from the 
primitive society of New England than amid the artifices 
and corruptions of a court. If either the governor or his 
lady had especially consulted their own comfort, they would 
probably have sought to devolve the responsibility on other 
hands, since wath some noble and splendid traits of charac- 
ter Lady Eleanore was remarkable for a harsh, unyielding 
pride, a haughty consciousness of her hereditary and per- 
sonal advantages, which made her almost incapable of con- 
trol. Judging from many traditionary anecdotes, this 
peculiar temper was hardly less than a monomania ; or if 
the acts which it inspired were those of a sane person, it 
seemed due from Providence that pride so sinful should be 
followed by as severe a retribution. That tinge of the mar- 
vellous w^hich is thrown over so many of these half-forgot- 
ten legends has probably imparted an additional wildness 
to the strange story of Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe. 


The ship in which she came passenger had arrived at 
Newport, whence Lady Eleanore was conveyed to Boston 
in the governor's coach, attended by a small escort of gen- 
tlemen on horseback. The ponderous equipage, with its 
four black horses, attracted much notice as it rumbled 
through Cornhill surrounded by the prancing steeds of half 
a dozen cavaliers with swords dangling to their stirrups and 
pistols at their holsters. Through the large glass windows 
of the coach, as it rolled along, the people could discern the 
figure of Lady Eleanore, strangely combining an almost 
queenly stateliness with the grace and beauty of a maiden 
in her teens. A singular tale had gone abroad among the 
ladies of the province that their fair rival was indebted for 
much of the irresistible charm of her appearance to a cer- 
tain article of dress — an embroidered mantle — which had 
been wrought by the most skilful artist in London, and pos- 
sessed even magical properties of adornment. On the present 
occasion, however, she owed nothing to the witchery of 
dress, being clad in a riding-habit of velvet which would 
have appeared stiff and ungraceful on any other form. 

The coachman reined in his four black steeds, and the 
whole cavalcade came to a pause in front of the contorted 
iron balustrade that fenced the province-house from the 
public street. It was an awkward coincidence that the bell 
of the Old South was just then tolling for a funeral; so 
that, instead of a gladsome peal with which it was cus- 
tomary to announce the arrival of distinguished strangers, 
Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe was ushered by a doleful clang, 
as if calamity had come embodied in her beautifiil person. 

"A very great disrespect !" exclaimed Captain Langford, 
an English officer who had recently brought despatches to 
Governor Shute. " The funeral should have been deferred 
lest Lady Eleanore's spirits be affected by such a dismal 

" With your pardon, sir," replied Dr. Clarke, a physician 
and a famous champion of the popular party, "whatever 


the heralds may pretend, a dead beggar must have prece- 
dence of a living queen. King Death confers high priv- 

These remarks were interchanged while the speakers 
waited a passage thi'x^ugh the crowd which had gathered on 
each side of the gateway, leaving an open avenue to the 
portal of the province-house. A black slave in livery now 
leaped from behind the coach and threw open the door, 
while at the same moment Governor Shute descended the 
flight of steps from his mansion to assist Lady Eleanore in 
alighting. But the governor's stately approach was antici- 
pated in a manner that excited general astonishment. A 
pale young man with his black hair all in disorder inished 
from the throng and j^rostrated himself beside the coach, 
thus offering his person as a footstool for Lady Eleanore 
Kochcliffe to tread upon. She held back an instant, yet 
with an expression as if doubting whether the young man 
were worthy to bear the weight of her footstep rather than 
dissatisfied to receive such a^\^l reverence from a fellow- 

" Up, sir !" said the governor, sternly, at the same time 
liftino- his cane over the intruder. " What means the Bed- 
lamite by this freak ?" 

"Nay," answered Lady Eleanore, playfully, but with 
more scorn than pity in her tone ; " Your Excellency shall 
not strike him. When men seek only to be trampled upon, 
it were a pity to deny them a favor so easily granted — and 
so well deserved !" Then, though as lightly as a sunbeam 
on a cloud, she placed her foot upon the cowering form 
and extended her hand to meet that of the governor. 

There was a brief interval during which Lady Eleanore 
retained this attitude, and never, surely, was there an apter 
emblem of aristocracy and hereditary pride trampling on 
human sympathies and the kindred of nature than these 
two figures presented at that moment. Yet the spectators 
were so smitten with her beauty, and so essential did pride 


seem to the existence of such a creature, that they gave a 
simultaneous acclamation of applause. 

" Who is this insolent young fellow ?" inquired Captain 
Langford, who still remained beside Dr. Clarke. " If he 
be in his senses, his impertinence demands the bastinado ; 
if mad, Lady Eleanore should be secured from further in- 
convenience by his confinement." 

" His name is Jervase Helwyse," answered the doctor — 
" a youth of no birth or fortune, or other advantages save 
the mind and soul that nature gave him ; and, being secre- 
tary to our colonial agent in London, it was his misfortune 
to meet this Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe. He loved her, and 
her scorn has driven him mad." 

" He was mad so to aspire," observed the English officer. 

" It may be so," said Dr. Clarke, frowning as he spoke ; 
" but I tell you, sir, I could wellnigh doubt the justice of 
the Heaven above us if no signal humiliation overtake this 
lady who now treads so haughtily into yonder mansion. 
She seeks to place herself above the sympathies of our 
common nature, which envelops all human souls ; see if 
that nature do not assert its claim over her in some mode 
tkat shall bring her level with the lowest." 

" Never !" cried Captain Langford, indignantly — " nei- 
ther in life nor when they lay her with her ancestors." 

Not many days afterward the governor gave a ball in 
honor of Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe. The principal gentry 
of the colony received invitations, which were distributed 
to their residences far and near by messengers on horseback 
bearing missives sealed with all the formality of official 
despatches. In obedience to the summons, there was a gen- 
eral gathering of rank, wealth and beauty, and the wide 
door of the province-house had seldom given admittance to 
more numerous and honorable guests than on the evening 
of Lady Eleanore's ball. Without much extravagance of 
eulogy, the spectacle might even be termed splendid, for, 
according to the fashion of the times, the ladies shone in 


rich silks and satins outspread over wide-projecting hoops, 
and the gentlemen glittered in gold embroidery laid un- 
sparingly upon the purple or scarlet or sky-blue velvet 
which was the material of their coats and waistcoats. The 
latter article of dress was of great importance, since it en- 
veloped the wearer's body nearly to the knees and was per- 
haps bedizened with the amount of his whole year's income 
in golden flowers and foliage. The altered taste of the 
present day — a taste symbolic of a deep change in the whole 
system of society — would look upon almost any of those 
gorgeous figures as ridiculous, although that evening the 
guests sought their reflections in the pier-glasses and re- 
joiced to catch their own glitter amid the glittering crowd. 
What a pity that one of the stately mirrors has not pre- 
served a picture of the scene which by the very traits that 
were so transitory might have taught us much that would 
be worth knowing and remembering ! 

"Would, at least, that either painter or mirror could con- 
vey to us some faint idea of a garment already noticed in 
this legend — the Lady Eleanore's embroidered mantle, 
which the gossips whispered was invested with magic prop- 
erties, so as to lend a new and untried grace to her figure 
each time that she put it on ! Idle fancy as it is, this mys- 
terious mantle has thrown an awe around my image of her, 
partly from its fabled virtues and partly because it was the 
handiwork of a dying woman, and perchance owed the fan- 
tastic grace of its concej^tion to the delirium of approaching 

After the ceremonial greetings had been paid, Lady 
Eleanore Rochcliffe stood apart from the mob of guests, 
insulating herself within a small and distinguished cir- 
cle to whom she accorded a more cordial favor than to 
the general throng. The waxen torches threw their ra- 
diance vividly over the scene, bringing out its brilliant 
points in strong relief, but she gazed carelessly, and 
with now and then an expression of weariness or scorn 


tempered with such feminine grace that her auditors scarcely 
perceived the moral deformity of which it was the utter- 
ance. She beheld the spectacle not with vulgar ridicule, 
as disdaining to be pleased with the provincial mockery of 
a court-festival, but with the deeper scorn of one whose 
spirit held itself too high to participate in the enjoyment 
of other human souls. Whether or no the recollections of 
those who saw her that evening were influenced by the 
strange events with which she was subsequently connected, 
so it was that her figure ever after recurred to them as 
marked by something wild and unnatural, although at the 
time the general whisper was of her exceeding beauty and 
of the indescribable charm which her mantle threw around 
her. Some close observers, indeed, detected a feverish flush 
and alternate paleness of countenance, with a correspond- 
ing flow and revulsion of spirits, and once or twice a pain- 
ful and helpless betrayal of lassitude, as if she were on the 
point of sinking to the ground. Then, with a nervous shud- 
der, she seemed to arouse her energies, and threw some 
bright and playful yet half- wicked sarcasm into the conver- 
sation. There was so strange a characteristic in her man- 
ners and sentiments that it astonished every right-minded 
listener, till, looking in her face, a lurking and incompre- 
hensible glance and smile perplexed them with doubts both 
as to her seriousness and sanity. Gradually, Lady Elea- 
nore Rochcliffe's circle grew smaller, till only four gentle- 
men remained in it. These were Captain Langford, the 
English officer before mentioned ; a Virginian planter who 
had come to Massachusetts on some political errand; a 
young Episcopal clergyman, the grandson of a British earl ; 
and, lastly, the private secretary of Governor Shute, whose 
obsequiousness had won a sort of tolerance from Lady 

At different periods of the evening the liveried servants 
of the province-house passed among the guests bearing huge 
trays of refreshments and French and Spanish wines. Lady 


Eleanore Rochcliffe, who refused to wet her beautiful 
lips even with a bubble of champagne, had sunk back 
into a large damask chair, apparently overwearied either 
with the excitement of the scene or its tedium ; and while, 
for an instant, she was unconscious of voices, laughter and 
music, a young man stole forward and knelt down at her 
feet. He bore a salver in his hand on which was a chased 
silver goblet filled to the brim with wine, which he offered 
as reverentially as to a crowned queen — or, rather, with the 
awful devotion of a jiriest doing sacrifice to his idol. Con- 
scious that some one touched her robe. Lady Eleanore 
started, and unclosed her eyes upon the pale, wild features 
and dishevelled hair of Jervase Helwyse. 

" Why do you haunt me thus ?" said she, in a languid 
tone, but with a kindlier feeling than she ordinarily per- 
mitted herself to express. *' They tell me that I have done 
you harm." 

" Heaven knows if that be so," replied the young man, 
solemnly. " But, Lady Eleanore, in requital of that harm, 
if such there be, and for your own earthly and heavenly 
welfare, I pray you to take one sip of this holy wine and 
then to pass the goblet round among the guests. And this 
shall be a symbol that you have not sought to withdraw 
yourself from the chain of human sympathies, which whoso 
would shake off must keep company with fallen angels." 

" Where has this mad fellow stolen that sacramental ves- 
sel ?" exclaimed the Episcopal clergyman. 

This question drew the notice of the guests to the silver 
cup, which was recognized as appertaining to the commu- 
nion-plate of the Old South Church, and, for aught that 
could be known, it was brimming over with the consecrated 

" Perhaps it is poisoned," half whispered the governor's 

" Pour it down the villain's throat !" cried the Virginian, 


" Turn him out of the house !" cried Captain Langford, 
seizing Jervase Helwyse so roughly by the shoulder that 
the sacramental cup was overturned and its contents 
sprinkled upon Lady Eleanore's mantle. " Whether knave, 
fool or Bedlamite, it is intolerable that the fellow should 
go at large." 

"Pray, gentlemen, do my poor admirer no harm," said 
Lady Eleanore, with a faint and weary smile. " Take him 
out of my sight, if such be your pleasure, for I can find in 
my heart to do nothing but laugh at him, whereas, in ail 
decency and conscience, it would become me to weep for the 
mischief I have wrought." 

But while the bystanders were attempting to lead away 
the unfortunate young man he broke from them and with a 
wild, impassioned earnestness offered a new and equally 
strange petition to Lady Eleanore. It was no other than 
that she should throw off the mantle, which while he pressed 
the silver cup of wine upon her she had drawn more closely 
around her form, so as almost to shroud herself within it. 

" Cast it from you," exclaimed Jervase Helwyse, clasping 
his hands in an agony of entreaty. " It may not yet be too 
late. Give the accursed garment to the flames." 

But Lady Eleanore, with a laugh of scorn, drew the rich 
folds of the embroidered mantle over her head in such a 
fashion as to give a completely new aspect to her beautiful 
face, which, half hidden, half revealed, seemed to belong to 
some being of mysterious character and purposes. 

" Farewell, Jervase Helwyse !" said she. " Keep my im- 
age in your remembrance as you behold it now." 

"Alas, lady!" he replied, in a tone no longer wild, but 
sad as a funeral-bell ; " we must meet shortly when your 
face may wear another aspect, and that shall be the image 
that must abide within me." He made no more resistance 
to the violent efforts of the gentlemen and servants who al- 
most dragged him out of the apartment and dismissed him 
roughly from the iron gate of the province-house. 


Captain Langford, who had been very active in this 
affair, was returning to the presence of Lady Eleanore 
Rochcliffe, when he encountered the physician, Dr. Clarke, 
with whom he had held some casual talk on the day of her 
arrival. The doctor stood apart, separated from Lady 
Eleanore by the width of the room, but eying her with such 
keen sagacity that Captain Langford involuntarily gave 
him credit for the discovery of some deep secret. 

" You appear to be smitten, after all, with the charms of 
this queenly maiden," said he, hoping thus to draw forth 
the physician's hidden knowledge. 

" God forbid !" answered Dr. Clarke, with a grave smile; 
** and if you be wise, you will put up the same prayer for 
yourself. Woe to those who shall be smitten by this beau- 
tiful Lady Eleanore ! But yonder stands the governor, and 
I have a word or two for his private ear. Good-night !" 
He accordingly advanced to Governor Shute and addressed 
him in so low a tone that none of the bystanders could catch 
a word of what he said, although the sudden change of His 
Excellency's hitherto cheerful visage betokened that the 
communication could be of no agreeable import. A very 
few moments afterward it 'was announced to the guests that 
an unforeseen circumstance rendered it necessary to put a 
premature close to the festival. 

The ball at the province-house supplied a topic of con- 
versation for the colonial metropolis for some days after its 
occurrence, and might still longer have been the general 
theme, only that a subject of all-engrossing interest thrust 
it for a time from the public recollection. This was the 
appearance of a dreadftil epidemic which in that age, and 
long before and afterward, was wont to slay its hundreds 
and thousands on both sides of the Atlantic. On the occa- 
sion of which we speak it was distinguished by a peculiar 
virulence, insomuch that it has left its traces — its pitmarks, 
to use an appropriate figure — on the history of the coun- 
try, the affairs of which were thrown into conftision by its 



ravages. At first, unlike its ordinary course, the disease 
seemed to confine itself to the higher circles of society, 
selecting its victims from among the proud, the well-born 
and the wealthy, entering unabashed into stately chambers 
and lying down with the slumberers in silken beds. Some 
of the most distinguished guests of the province-house- — 
even those whom the haughty Lady Eleanore Rochcliffe 
had deemed not unworthy of her favor — were stricken by 
this fatal scourge. It was noticed with an ungenerous bit- 
terness of feeling that the four gentlemen — the Virginian, 
the British officer, the young clergyman and the governor's 
secretary — who had been her most devoted attendants on 
the evening of the ball were the foremost on whom the 
plague-stroke fell. But the disease, pursuing its onward 
progress, soon ceased to be exclusively a prerogative of 
aristocracy* Its red brand was no longer conferred like a 
noble's star or an order of knighthood. It threaded its 
way through the narrow and crooked streets, and entered 
the low, mean, darksome dwellings and laid its hand of 
death upon the artisans and laboring classes of the town. 
It compelled rich and poor to feel themselves brethren then, 
and stalking to and fro across the Three Hills with a fierce- 
ness which made it almost a new pestilence, there was that 
mighty conqueror — that scourge and horror of our fore- 
fathers — the small-pox. 

We cannot estimate the affright which this plague in- 
spired of yore by contemplating it as the fangless monster 
of the present day. We must remember, rather, with vv^hat 
awe we watched the gigantic footsteps of the Asiatic cholera 
striding from shore to shore of the Atlantic and marching 
like Destiny upon cities far remote which flight had 
already half depopulated. There is no other fear so hor- 
rible and unhumanizing as that which makes man dread 
to breathe heaven's vital air lest it be poison, or to grasp 
the hand of a brother or friend lest the grip of the pesti- 
lence should clutch him. Such was the dismay that now 


followed in the track cf the disease or ran before it through- 
out the town. Graves were hastily dug and the pestilen- 
tial relics as hastily covered, because the dead were enemies 
of the living and strove to draw them headlong, as it were, 
into their own dismal pit. The public councils were sus- 
pended, a^ if mortal wisdom might relinquish its devices 
now that an unearthly usurper had found his way into the 
ruler's mansion. Had an enemy's fleet been hovering on 
the coast or his armies trampling on our soil, the people 
would probably have committed their defence to that same 
direful conqueror who had wrought their own calamity and 
would permit no interference with his sway. This conqueror 
had a symbol of his triumphs : it was a blood-red flag that 
fluttered in the tainted air over the door of every dwelling 
into which the small-pox had entered. 

Such a banner was long since waving over the portal of 
the province-house, for thence, as was proved by tracking 
its footsteps back, had all this dreadfiil mischief issued. 
It had been traced back to a lady's luxurious chamber, to 
the proudest of the proud, to her that was so delicate and 
hardly owned herself of earthly mould, to the haughty one 
who took her stand above human sympathies — to Lady 
Eleanore. There remained no room for doubt that the 
contagion had lurked in that gorgeous mantle which threw 
so strange a grace around her at the festival. Its fantastic 
splendor had been conceived in the delirious brain of a 
woman on her death-bed and was the last toil of her stiffen- 
ing fingers, which had interwoven fate and misery with its 
golden threads. This dark tale, whispered at first, was now 
bruited far and wide. The people raved against the Lady 
Eleanore and cried out that her pride and scorn had evoked 
a fiend, and that between them both this monstrous evil had 
been born. At times their rage and despair took the sem- 
blance of grinning mirth ; and whenever the red flag of 
the pestilence was hoisted over another and yet another 
door, they clapped their hands and shouted through the 


streets in bitter mockery : ''Behold a new triumph for the 
Lady Eleanore !" 

One day in the midst of these dismal times a wild figure 
approached the portal of the province-house, and, folding 
his arms, stood contemplating the scarlet banner, which a 
passing breeze shook fitfully, as if to fling abroad the con- 
tagion that it typified. At length, climbing one of the pil- 
lars by means of the iron balustrade, he took down the 
flag, and entered the mansion "waving it above his head. 
At the foot of the staircase he met the governor, booted 
and spurred, with his cloak drawn around him, evidently 
on the point of setting forth upon a journey. 

" Wretched lunatic, what do you seek here ?" exclaimed 
Shute, extending his cane to guard himself from contact. 
" There is nothing here but Death ; back, or you will meet 

" Death will not touch me, the banner-bearer of the pes- 
tilence," cried Jervase Helwyse, shaking the red flag aloft. 
" Death and the pestilence, who wears the aspect of the 
Lady Eleanore, will walk through the streets to-night, and 
I must march before them with this banner." 

" Why do I waste words on the fellow ?" muttered the 
governor, drawing his cloak across his mouth. " What 
matters his miserable life, when none of us are sure of 
twelve hours' breath ? — On, fool, to your own destruction !" 

He made way for Jervase Helwyse, who immediately 
ascended the staircase, but on the first landing-place was 
arrested by the firm grasp of a hand upon his shoulder. 
Looking fiercely up with a madman's impulse to struggle 
with and rend asunder his opponent, he found himself 
powerless beneath a calm, stern eye which possessed the 
mysterious property of quelling frenzy at its height. The 
person whom he had now encountered was the physician, 
Dr. Clarke, the duties of whose sad profession had led him 
to the province-house, where he was an infrequent guest in 
more prosperous times. 


" Young man, what is your purpose ?" demanded he. 

" I seek the Lady Eleanore," answered Jervase Helwyse, 

" All have fled from her," said the physician. " Why do 
you seek her now ? I tell you, youth, her nurse fell death- 
stricken on the threshold of that fatal chamber. Know ye 
not that never came such a curse to our shores as this lovely 
Lady Eleanore, that her breath has filled the air with 
poison, that she has shaken pestilence and death upon the 
land from the folds of her accursed mantle ?" 

" Let me look upon her,'* rejoined the mad youth, more 
wildly. " Let me behold her in her awful beauty, clad in 
the regal garments of the pestilence. She and Death sit 
on a throne together ; let me kneel down before them." 

" Poor youth !" said Dr. Clarke, and, moved by a deep 
sense of human weakness, a smile of caustic humor curled 
his lip even then. " Wilt thou still worship the destroyer 
and surround her image with fantasies the more magnificent 
the more evil she has wrought ? Thus man doth ever to his 
tyrants. Approach, then. INIadness, as I have noted, has 
that good efiicacy that it will guard you from contagion, 
and perhaps its own cure may be found in yonder chamber." 
Ascending another flight of stairs, he threw open a door 
and signed to Jervase Helwyse that he should enter. 

The poor lunatic, it seems probable, had cherished a de- 
lusion that his haughty mistress sat in state, unharmed her- 
self by the pestilential influence which as by enchantment 
she scattered round about her. He dreamed, no doubt, 
that her beauty was not dimmed, but brightened into super- 
human splendor. With such anticipations he stole rever- 
entially to the door at which the physician stood, but paused 
upon the threshold, gazing fearfully into the gloom of the 
darkened chamber. 

" Where is the Lady Eleanore ?" whispered he. 

" Call her," replied the physician. 

" Lady Eleanore ! princess ! queen of Death !" cried Jer- 


vase Helwyse, advancing three steps into the chamber. 
*'She is not here. There, on yonder table, I behold the 
sparkle of a diamond which once she wore upon her bosom. 
There " — and he shuddered — " there hangs her mantle, on 
which a dead woman embroidered a spell of dreadful po- 
tency. But where is the Lady Eleanore ?" 

Something stirred within the silken curtains of a canopied 
bed and a low moan was uttered, which, listening intently, 
Jervase Helwyse began to distinguish as a woman's voice 
complaining dolefully of thirst. He fancied, even, that he 
recognized its tones. 

"My throat! My throat is scorched," murmured the 
voice. " A drop of water !" 

" What thing art thou ?" said the brain-stricken youth, 
drawing near the bed and tearing asunder its curtains. 
" Whose voice hast thou stolen for thy murmurs and miser- 
able petitions, as if Lady Eleanore could be conscious of 
mortal infirmity ? Fie ! Heap of diseased mortality, why 
lurkest thou in my lady's chamber?" 

" Oh, Jervase Helwyse," said the voice — and as it spoke 
the figure contorted itself, struggling to hide its blasted 
face — " look not now on the woman you once loved. The 
curse of Heaven hath stricken me because I would not call 
man my brother nor woman sister. I wrapped myself in 
pride as in a mantle and scorned the sympathies of nature, 
and therefore has Nature made this wretched body the me- 
dium of a dreadful sympathy. You are avenged, they are 
all avenged. Nature is avenged ; for I am Eleanore Roch- 

The malice of his mental disease, the bitterness lurking 
at the bottom of his heart, mad as he was, for a blighted 
and ruined life and love that had been paid with cruel 
scorn, awoke within the breast of Jervase Helwyse. He 
shook his finger at the wretched girl, and the chamber 
echoed, the curtains of the bed were shaken, with his out- 
burst of insane merriment. 


"Another triumph for the Lady Eleanors!" he cried. 
" All have been her victims ; who so w orthy to be the final 
victim as herself?" Impelled by some new fantasy of his 
crazed intellect, he snatched the fatal mantle and rushed 
from the chamber and the house. 

That night a procession passed by torchlight through the 
streets, bearing in the midst the figure of a woman enveloped 
with a richly-embroidered mantle, while in advance stalked 
Jervase Helwyse waving the red flag of the pestilence. 
Arriving opposite the province-house, the mob burned the 
effigy, and a strong wind came and swept away the ashes. 
It was said that from that very hour the pestilence abated, 
as if its sway had some mysterious connection, from the 
first plague-stroke to the last, with Lady Eleanore's mantle. 
A remarkable uncertainty broods over that unhappy lady's 
fate. There is a belief, however, that in a certain chamber 
of this mansion a female form may sometimes be duskily 
discerned shrinkino; into the darkest corner and mufflins: 
her face within an embroidered mantle. Supposing the 
legend true, can this be other than the once proud Lady 
Eleanore ? 

Mine host and the old loyalist and I bestowed no little 
warmth of applause upon this narrative, in which we had 
all been deeply interested ; for the reader can scarcely con- 
ceive how unspeakably the effect of such a tale is heightened 
when, as in the present case, we may repose perfect confi- 
dence in the veracity of him who tells it. For my own 
part, knowing how scrupulous is Mr. Tiffany to settle the 
foundation of his facts, I could not have believed him one 
whit the more faithfully had he professed himself an eye- 
witness of the doings and sufferings of poor Lady Eleanore. 
Some sceptics, it is true, might demand documentary evi- 
dence, or even require him to produce the embroidered 
mantle, forgetting that — Heaven be praised ! — it was con- 
sumed to ashes. 


But now the old loyalist, whose blood was warmed by 
the good cheer, began to talk, in his turn, about the tradi- 
tions of the Province House, and hinted that he, if it were 
agreeable, might add a few reminiscences to our legendary 
stock. Mr. Tiffany, having no cause to dread a rival, im- 
mediately besought him to favor us with a specimen ; my 
own entreaties, of course, were urged to the same effect ; 
and our venerable guest, well pleased to find willing audi- 
tors, awaited only the return of Mr. Thomas Waite, who 
had been summoned forth to provide accommodations for 
several new arrivals. Perchance the public — but be this 
as its own caprice and ours shall settle the matter — may 
read the result in another tale of the Province House. 



Our host having resumed the chair, he as well as Mr. 
Tiffany and myself expressed much eagerness to be made 
acquainted with the story to which the loyalist had alluded. 
That venerable man first of all saw fit to moisten his throai: 
with another glass of wine, and then, turning his face to- 
ward our coal-fire, looked steadfastlv for a few moments 
into the depths of its cheerful glow. Finally he poured 
forth a great fluency of speech. The generous liquid that 
he had imbibed, while it warmed his age-chilled blood, like- 
wise took off the chill from his heart and mind, and gave 
him an energy to think and feel which we could hardly have 
expected to find beneath the snows of fourscore winters. 
His feelings, indeed, appeared to me more excitable than 
those of a younger man — or, at least, the same degree of 
feeling manifested itself by more visible effects than if his 
judgment and will had possessed the potency of meridian 
life. At the pathetic passages of his narrative he readily 
melted into tears. AVhen a breath of indignation swept 
across his spirit, the blood flushed his withered visage even 
to the roots of his white hair, and he shook his clinched 
fist at the trio of peaceful auditors, seeming to fancy ene- 
mies in those who felt very kindly toward the desolate old 
soul. But ever and anon, sometimes in the midst of his 
most earnest talk, this ancient person's intellect would wan- 
der vaguely, losing its hold of the matter in hand and grop- 



ing for it amid misty shadows. Then would he cackle forth 
;i feeble laugh and express a doubt whether his wits — for by 
that phrase it pleased our ancient friend to signify his 
mental powers — were not getting a little the worse for 

Under these disadvantages, the old loyalist's story re- 
quired more revision to render it fit for the public eye than 
those of the series which have preceded it ; nor should it 
be concealed that the sentiment and tone of the afiair may 
have undergone some slight — or perchance more than slight 
— metamorphosis in its transmission to the reader through 
the medium of a thoroughgoing democrat. The tale itself 
is a mere sketch with no involution of plot nor any great 
interest of events, yet possessing, if I have rehearsed it 
aright, that pensive influence over the mind which the 
shadow of the old Province House flings upon the loiterer 
in its court-yard. 

The hour had come — the hour of defeat and humiliation 
— when Sir William Howe was to pass over the threshold 
of the province-house and embark, with no such triumphal 
ceremonies as he once promised himself, on board the Brit- 
ish fleet. He bade his servants and military attendants go 
before him, and lingered a moment in the loneliness of the 
mansion to quell the fierce emotions that struggled in his 
bosom as with a death-throb. Preferable then would he 
have deemed his fate had a w^arrior's death left him a claim 
to the narrow territory of a grave within the soil which the 
king had given him to defend. With an ominous percep- 
tion that as his departing footsteps echoed adown the stair- 
case the sway of Britain was passing for ever from New 
England, he smote his clenched hand on his brow and 
cursed the destiny that had flung the shame of a dismem- 
bered empire upon him. 

" Would to God," cried he, hardly repressing his tears of 


rage, " that the rebels were even now at tlie doorstep I A 
biood-stain upon the floor should then bear testimony that 
the last British ruler was faithful to his trust." 

The tremulous voice of a woman replied to his exclama- 

" Heaven's cause and the king's are one," it said. " Go 
forth. Sir William Howe, and trust in Heaven to bring back 
a royal governor in triumph." 

Subduing at once the passion to which he had yielded 
only in the faith that it was unwitnessed,Sir William Howe 
became conscious that an aged Vvoman leaning on a gold- 
headed staff was standing betwixt him and the dooi*. It 
was old Esther Dudley, who had dwelt almost immemorial 
years in this mansion, until her presence seemed as insepa- 
rable from it as the recollections of its histor}^ She was the 
daughter of an ancient and once eminent family which had 
fallen into poverty and decay and left its last descendant 
no resource save the bounty of the king, nor any shelter 
except within the walls of the province-house. An office 
in the household with merely nominal duties had been as- 
signed to her as a pretext for the payment of a small pen- 
sion, the greater part of which she expended in adorning 
herself with an antique magnificence of attire. The claims 
of Esther Dudley's gentle blood were acknowledged by all 
the successive governors, and they treated her with the 
punctilious courtesy which it was her foible to demand, not 
always with success, from a neglectful world. The only 
actual share which she assumed in the business of the man- 
sion was to glide through its passages and public chambers 
late at night to see that the servants had dropped no fire 
from their flaring torches nor left embers crackling and 
blazing on the hearths. Perhaps it was this invariable cus- 
tom of walking her rounds in the hush of midnight that 
caused the superstition of the times to invest the old woman 
with attributes of awe and mystery, fabling that she had 
entered the portal of the province-house — none knew whence 


— in the train of the first royal governor, and that it was 
her fate to dwell there till the last should have departed. 

But Sir William Howe, if he ever heard this legend, had 
forgotten it. 

"Mistress Dudley, why are you loitering here?" asked 
he, with some severity of tone. "It is my pleasure to be 
the last in this mansion of the king." 

" Not so, if it please Your Excellency," answered the 
time-stricken woman. " This roof has sheltered me long ; 
I wdll not pass from it until they bear me to the tomb of my 
forefathers. What other shelter is there for old Esther 
Dudley save the province-house or the grave?" 

" Now, Heaven forgive me !" said Sir William Howe to 
himself " I was about to leave this wretched old creature 
to starve or beg. — Take this, good Mistress Dudley," he 
added, putting a purse into her hands. " King George's 
head on these golden guineas is sterling yet, and will con- 
tinue so, I warrant you, even should the rebels crown John 
Hancock their king. That purse wall buy a better shelter 
than the province-house can now afford." 

" While the burden of life remains upon me I will have 
no other shelter than this roof," persisted Esther Dudley, 
striking her staff upon the floor wdth a gesture that ex- 
pressed immovable resolve ; " and when Your Excellency 
returns in triumph, I will totter into the porch to welcome 

" My poor old friend !" answered the British general, and 
all his manly and martial pride could no longer restrain a 
gush of bitter tears. " This is an evil hour for you and 
me. The province which the king entrusted to my charge 
is lost. I go hence in misfortune — perchance in disgrace — 
to return no more. And you, whose present being is incor- 
porated with the past, who have seen governor after gov- 
ernor in stately pageantry ascend these steps, whose whole 
life has been an observance of majestic ceremonies and a 
worship of the king, — how will you endure the change f 


Come with us ; bid farewell to a land that has shaken off 
its allegiance, and live still under a royal government at 

" Never ! never !" said the pertinacious old dame. " Here 
will I abide, and King George shall still have one true sub- 
ject in his disloyal province." 

" Beshrew the old fool !" muttered Sir William Howe, 
growing impatient of her obstinacy and ashamed of the 
emotion into which he had been betrayed. " She is the 
very moral of old-fashioned prejudice, and could exist no- 
where but in this musty edifice. — Well, then. Mistress Dud- 
ley, since you will needs tarry, I give the province-house in 
charge to you. Take this key, and keep it safe until my- 
self or some other royal governor shall demand it of you." 
Smiling bitterly at himself and her, he took the heavy key 
of the province-house, and, delivering it into the old lady's 
hands, drew his cloak around him for departure. 

As the general glanced back at Esther Dudley's antique 
figure he deemed her Avell fitted for such a charge, as being 
so perfect a representative of the decayed past — of an age 
gone by, with its manners, opinions, faith and feelings all 
fallen into oblivion or scorn, of what had once been a 
reality, but was now merely a vision of faded magnificence. 
Then Sir William Howe strode forth, smiting his clenched 
hands together in the fierce anguish of his spirit, and old 
Esther Dudley was left to keep watch in the lonely province- 
house, dwelling there with Memory; and if Hope ever 
seemed to flit around her, still it was Memory in disguise. 

The total change of affairs that ensued on the departure 
of the British troops did not drive the venerable lady from 
her stronghold. There was not for many years afterward a 
governor of Massachusetts, and the magistrates who had 
charge of such matters saw no objection to Esther Dudley's 
residence in the province-house, especially as they must 
otherwise have paid a hireling for taking care of the prem- 
ises, which with her was a labor of love ; and so they left 


her the undisturbed mistress of the old historic edifice. 
Many and strange Avere the fables which the gossips whis- 
pered about her in all the chimney-corners of the town. 

Among the time-worn articles of furniture that had been 
left in the mansion, there was a tall antique mirror which 
was well worthy of a tale by itself, and perhaps may here- 
after be the theme of one. The gold of its heavily-wrought 
frame was tarnished, and its surface so blurred that the old 
woman's figure, whenever she paused before it, looked in- 
distinct and ghostlike. But it was the general belief that 
Esther could cause the governors of the overthrown dynasty, 
with the beautiful ladies who had once adorned their festi- 
vals, the Indian chiefs who had come up to the province- 
house to hold council or swear allegiance, the grim provin- 
cial warriors, the severe clergymen — in short, all the 
pageantry of gone days, all the figures that ever swept 
across the broad plate of glass in former times, — she could 
cause the whole to reappear and people the inner world of 
the mirror with shadows of old life. Such legends as these, 
together with the singularity of her isolated existence, her 
age and the infirmity that each added winter flung upon 
her, made Mistress Dudley the object both of fear and pity, 
and it was partly the result of either sentiment that, amid 
all the angry license of the times, neither v;rong nor insult 
ever fell upon her unprotected head. Indeed, there was so 
much haughtiness in her demeanor toward intruders — 
among whom she reckoned all persons acting under the new 
authorities — that it was really an afiair of no small nerve to 
look her in the face. And, to do the people justice, stern 
republicans as they had now become, they were well con- 
tent that the old gentlewoman, in her lioop-petticoat and 
faded embroidery, should still haunt the palace of ruined 
pride and overthrown power, the symbol of a departed sys- 
tem, embodying a history in her person. So Esther Dud- 
ley dwelt year after year in the province-house, still rever- 
encing all that others had flung aside, still faithful to her 


king, who, so long as the venerable dame yet held her post, 
might be said to retain one true subject in New England 
and one spot of the empire that had been wrested from 

And did she dwell there in utter loneliness ? Rumor said, 
" Not so." Whenever her chill and withered heart desired 
warmth, she was wont to summon a black slave of Gov- 
ernor Shirley's from the blurred mirror and send him in 
search of guests who had long ago been familiar in those 
deserted chambers. Forth went the sable messenger, with 
the starlight or the moonshine gleaming through him, and 
did his errand in the burial-grounds, knocking at the iron 
doors of tombs or upon the marble slabs that covered them, 
and whispering to those within, " My mistress, old Esther 
Dudley, bids you to the province-house at midnight ;" and 
punctually as the clock of the Old South told tvrelve came 
the shadows of the Olivers, the Hutchinsons, the Dudleys — 
all the grandees of a bygone generation — gliding beneath 
the portal into the well-known mansion, where Esther min- 
gled with them as if she likewise were a shade. Without 
vouching for the truth of such traditions, it is certain that 
Mistress Dudley sometimes assembled a few of the stanch 
though crestfallen old Tories who had lingered in the rebel 
town during those days of wrath and tribulation. Out of a 
cobwebbed bottle containing liquor that a royal governor 
might have smacked his lips over they quaffed healths to 
the king and babbled treason to the republic, feeling as if 
the protecting shadow of the throne were still flung around 
! them. But, draining the last drops of their liquor, they 
I stole timorously homeward, and answered not again if the 
I rude mob reviled them in the street. 

Yet Esther Dudley's most frequent and favored guests 
were the children of the town. Toward them she was never 
stern. A kindly and loving nature hindered elsewhere from 
its free course by a thousand rocky prejudices lavished it- 
self upon these little ones. By bribes of gingerbread of 


lier own making, stamped with a royal crown, she tempted 
their sunny sportiveness beneath the gloomy portal of the 
province-house, and would often beguile them to spend a 
whole play-day there, sitting in a circle round the verge 
of her hoop-petticoat, greedily attentive to her stories of a 
dead world. And when these little boys and girls stole forth 
again from the dark, mysterious mansion, they went be- 
wildered, full of old feelings that graver people had long 
ago forgotten, rubbing their eyes at the world around them 
as if they had gone astray into ancient times and become 
children of the past. At home, when their parents asked 
where they had loitered such a weary while and with whom 
they had been at play, the children would talk of all the 
departed worthies of the province as far back as Governor 
Belcher and the haughty dame of Sir William Phipps. It 
would seem as though they had been sitting on the knees 
of these famous personages, whom the grave had hidden for 
half a century, and had toyed with the embroidery of their 
rich waistcoats or roguishly pulled the long curls of their 
flowing wigs. " But Governor Belcher has been dead this 
many a year," would the mother say to her little boy. 
"And^^id you really see him at the province-house?" — 
*'0h yes, dear mother — yes!" the half-dreaming child 
would answer. " But when old Esther had done speaking 
about him, he faded away out of his chair." Thus, without 
affrighting her little guests, she led them by the hand into 
the chambers of her own desolate heart and made child- 
hood's fancy discern the ghosts that haunted there. 

Living so continually in her own circle of ideas, and 
never regulating her mind by a proper reference to present 
things, Esther Dudley appears to have grown partially 
crazed. It was found that she had no right sense of the 
progress and true state of the Revolutionary war, but held 
a constant faith that the armies of Britain were victorious 
on every field and destined to be ultimately triumphant. 
"Whenever the towTi rejoiced for a battle won by Washing- 


ton or Gates or Morgan or Greene, tlie news, in passing 
through the door of the province-house as through the 
ivory gate of dreams, became metamorphosed into a strange 
tale of the prowess of Howe, Clinton or Cornwallis. Sooner 
or later, it was her invincible belief, the colonies would be 
prostrate at the footstool of the king. Sometimes she 
seemed to take for granted that such was already the case. 
On one occasion she startled the townspeople by a brilliant 
illumination of the province-house with candles at every 
pane of glass and a transparency of the king's initials and. 
a crown of light in the great balcony-window. The figure 
of the aged woman in the most gorgeous of her mildewed 
velvets and brocades was seen passing from casement to 
casement, until she paused before the balcony and flour- 
ished a huge key above her head. Her wrinkled visage 
actually gleamed with triumph, as if the soul within her 
were a festal lamp. 

" What means this blaze of light ? What does old 
Esther's joy portend ?" whispered a spectator. " It is 
frightful to see her gliding about the chambers and rejoi- 
cing there without a soul to bear her company." 

*' It is as if she were making merry in a tomb," said 

" Pshaw ! It is no such myster}%" observed an old man, 
after some brief exercise of memory. " Mistress Dudley 
is keeping jubilee for the king of England's birthday." 

Then the people laughed aloud, and would have thrown 
mud against the blazing transparency of the king's crown 
and initials, only that they pitied the poor old dame who 
was so dismally triumphant amid the wreck and ruin of 
the system to which she appertained. 

Oftentimes it was her custom to climb the weary stair- 
case that wound upward to the cupola, and thence strain her 
dimmed eyesight seaward and countryward, watching for 
a British fleet or for the march of a grand procession with 
the king's banner floating over it. The passengers in the 


street below would discern lier anxious visage and send up 
a shout : " When the golden Indian on the province-hout^e 
shall shoot his arrow, and when the cock on the Old South 
spire shall crow, then look for a royal governor again !' 
for this had grown a by-word through the town. And at 
last, after long, long years, old Esther Dudley knew — or 
perchance she only dreamed — that a royal governor was on 
the eve of returning to the province-house to receive the 
heavy key which Sir William Howe had committed to her 
charge. Now, it was the fact that intelligence bearing some 
faint analogy to Esther's version of it was current among 
the townspeople. She set the mansion in the best order 
that her means allowed, and, arraying herself in silks and 
tarnished gold, stood long before the blurred mirror to ad- 
mire her own magnificence. As she gazed the gray and 
withered lady moved her ashen lips, murmuring half aloud, 
talking to shapes that she saw within the mirror, to shadows 
of her own fantasies, to the household friends of memory, 
and bidding them rejoice with her and come forth to meet 
the governor. And while absorbed in this communion 
Mistress Dudley heard the tramp of many footsteps in the 
street, and, looking out at the window, beheld what she con- 
strued as the royal governor's arrival. 

"Oh, happy day! Oh, blessed, blessed hour!" she ex- 
claimed. " Let me but bid him welcome within the porta], 
and my task in the province-house and on earth is done.'' 
Then, with tottering feet which age and tremulous joy 
caused to tread amiss, she hurried down the grand staircase, 
her silks sweeping and rustling as she went ; so that the 
sound was as if a train of special courtiers were thronging 
from the dim mirror. 

And Esther Dudley fancied that as soon as the wide door 
should be flung open all the pomp and splendor of bygone 
times would pace majestically into the province-house and 
the gilded tapestry of the past would be brightened by 
the sunshine of the present. She turned the key, withdrew 


it from the lock, unclosed the door and stepped across the 
threshold. Advancing up the court-yard appeared a person 
of most dignified mien, with tokens, as Esther interpreted 
them, of gentle blood, high rank and long-accustomed au- 
thority even in his walk and every gesture. He was richly 
dressed, but wore a gouty shoe, which, however, did not lessen 
the stateliness of his gait. Around and behind him were peo- 
ple in plain civic dresses and two or three war-worn veterans 
— evidently officers of rank — arrayed in a uniform of blue 
and bufiT. But Esther Dudley, firm in the belief that had 
fastened its roots about her heart, beheld only the princi- 
pal personage, and never doubted that this was the long- 
looked-for governor to whom she was to surrender up her 
charge. As he approached she involuntarily sank down 
on her knees and tremblingly held forth the heavy key. 

" Receive my trust ! Take it quickly," cried she, **' for 
methinks Death is striving to snatch away my triumph. 
But he comes too late. Thank Heaven for this blessed 
hour! God save Kino- Georo-e!" 

" That, madam, is a strange prayer to be ofiered up at such a 
moment," replied the unknown guest of the province-house, 
and, courteously removing his hat, he offered his arm to 
raise the aged woman. " Yet, in reverence for your gray 
hairs and long-kept faith, Heaven forbid that any here 
sriould say you nay. Over the realms which still acknow- 
ledge his sceptre, God save King George !" 

Esther Dudley started to her feet, and, hastily clutching 
back the key, gazed with fearful earnestness at the stranger, 
and dimly and doubtfully, as if suddenly awakened from 
a dream, her bewildered eyes half recognized his face. 
Years ago she had known him among the gentry of the 
province, but the ban of the king had fallen upon him. 
How, then, came the doomed victim here? Proscribed, 
excluded from mercy, the monarch's most dreaded and 
hated foe, this New England merchant had stood trium- 
phantly against a kingdom's strength, and his foot now 


trod upon humbled royalty as he ascended the steps of 
the province-house, the people's chosen governor of Massa- 

" Wretch, wretch that I am !" muttered the old woman, 
with such a heartbroken expression that the tears gushed 
from the stranger's eyes. " Have I bidden a traitor wel- 
come ? — Come, Death ! come quickly !" 

" Alas, venerable lady !" said Governor Hancock, lending 
her his support with all the reverence that a courtier would 
have shown to a queen, " your life has been prolonged until 
the world has changed around you. You have treasured 
up all that time has rendered worthless — the principles, 
feelings, manners, modes of being and acting which another 
generation has flung aside — and you are a symbol of the 
past. And I and these around me — we represent a new 
race of men, living no longer in the past, scarcely in the 
present, but projecting our lives forward into the future. 
Ceasing to model ourselves on ancestral superstitions, it is 
our faith and principle to press onward — onward. — Yet," 
continued he, turning to his attendants, " let us reverence 
for the last time the stately and gorgeous prejudices of the 
tottering past." 

While the republican governor spoke he had continued 
to support the helpless form of Esther Dudley ; her weight 
grew heavier against his arm, but at last, with a sudden 
effort to free herself, the ancient woman sank down beside 
one of the pillars of the portal. The key of the province- 
house fell from her grasp and clanked against the stone. 

" I have been faithful unto death," murmured she. " God 
save the king !" 

"She hath done her office," said Hancock, solemnly. 
" We will follow her reverently to the tomb of her ances- 
tors, and then, my fellow-citizens, onward— onward. We 
are no longer children of the past." 

As the old loyalist concluded his narrative the enthusi- 


asm which had been fitfully flashing within his sunken eyes 
and quivering across his wrinkled visage faded away, as if 
all the lingering fire of his soul were extinguished. Just 
then, too. a lamp upon the mantelpiece threw out a dying 
gleam, which vanished as speedily as it shot upward, com- 
pelling our eyes to grope for one another's features by the 
dim glow of the hearth. With such a lingering fire, me- 
thought, with such a dying gleam, had the glory of the 
ancient system vanished from the province-house when the 
spirit of old Esther Dudley took its flight. And now, again, 
the clock of the Old South threw its voice of ages on the 
breeze, knolling the hourly knell of the past, crying out far 
and wide through the multitudinous city, and filling our 
ears, as we sat in the dusky chamber, with its reverberating 
depth of tone. In that same mansion — in that very cham- 
ber — what a volume of history had been told otf into hours 
by the same voice that was now trembling in the air ! Many 
a governor had heard those midnight accents and longed to 
exchange his stately cares for slumber. And, a? for mine 
host and Mr. Bela Tiffany and the old loyalist and me, we 
had babbled about dreams of the past until we almost fan- 
cied that the clock was still striking in a bygone century. 
Neither of us would have wondered had a hoop-petticoated 
phantom of Esther Dudley tottered into the chamber, 
walking her rounds in the hush of midnight as of yore, and 
motioned us to quench the fading embers of the fire and 
leave the historic precincts to herself and her kindred 
shades. But, as no such vision was vouchsafed, I retired 
unbidden, and would advise Mr. Tiffany to lay hold of an- 
other auditor, being resolved not to show my face in the 
Province House for a good while hence — if ever. 


What a singular moment is the first one, when you have 
hardly begun to recollect yourself, after starting from mid- 
night slumber I By unclosing your eyes so suddenly you 
seem to have surprised the personages of your dream in full 
convocation round your bed, and catch one broad glance 
at them before they can flit into obscurity. Or, to vary 
the metaphor, you find yourself for a single instant wide 
awake in that realm of illusions whither sleep has been the 
passport, and behold its ghostly inhabitants and wondrous 
scenery with a perception of their strangeness such as you 
never attain while the dream is undisturbed. The distant 
sound of a church-clock is borne faintly on the wind. You 
question with yourself, half seriously, whether it has stolen 
to your waking ear from some gray tower that stood within 
the precincts of your dream. While yet in suspense another 
clock flings its heavy clang over the slumbering town "svith 
so full and distinct a sound, and such a long murmur in the 
neighboring air, that you are certain it must proceed from 
the steeple at the nearest corner. You count the strokes — 
one, two ; and there they cease with a booming sound like 
the gathering of a third stroke within the bell. 

If you could choose an hour of w^akefujness out of the whole 
night, it would be this. Since your sober bedtime, at eleven, 
you have had rest enough to take of^ the pressure of yester- 
day's fatigue, while before you, till the sun comes from "Far 
Cathay " to brighten your window, there is almost the space 
of a summer night — one hour to be spent in thought with 



the mind's eye half shut, and t\Yo in pleasant dreams, and 
two in that strangest of enjoyments the forgetfulness alike 
of joy and woe. The moment of rising belongs to another 
period of time, and appears so distant that the plunge out 
of a warm bed into the frosty air cannot yet be anticipated 
"with dismay. Yesterday has already vanished among the 
shadows of the past ; to-morrow has not yet emerged from 
the future. You have found an intermediate space where 
the business of life does not intrude, where the passing mo- 
ment lingers and becomes truly the present ; a sj^ot where 
Father Time, when he thinks nobody is watching him, sits 
down by the wayside to take breath. Oh that he would 
fail asleep and let mortals live on without growing older ! 

Hitherto you have lain perfectly still, because the slight- 
est motion would dissipate the fragments of your slumber. 
Kow, being irrevocably awake, you peej) through the half- 
drawn window-curtain, and observe that the glass is orna- 
mented with fanciful devices in frost-work, and that each 
pane presents sometliing like a frozen dream. There will 
be time enough to trace out the analoo;v while waitins; the 
summons to breakfast. Seen through the clear portion of 
the glass where the silvery mountain-peaks of the frost- 
scenery do not ascend, the most conspicuous object is the 
steeple, the white spire of which directs you to the wintry lus- 
tre of the firmament. You may almost distinguish the figures 
on the clock that has just told the hour. Such a frosty sky 
and the snow-covered roofs and the lonsr vista of the frozen 
street, all white, and the distant water hardened into rock, 
might make you shiver even under four blankets and a 
woollen comforter. Yet look at that one glorious star ! Its 
beams are distinguishable from all the rest, and actually 
cast the shadow of the casement on the bed with a radiance 
of deeper hue than moonlight, though not so accurate an 

You sink down and muffle your head in the clothes, shiv- 
ering all the while, but less from bodilv chill than the bare 


idea of a polar atmosphere. It is too cold even for the 
thoughts to venture abroad. You speculate on the luxury 
of wearing out a whole existence in bed like an oyster in its 
shell, content with the sluggish ecstasy of inaction, and 
drowsily conscious of nothing but delicious warmth such as 
you now feel again. Ah ! that idea has brought a hideous 
one in its train. You think how the dead are lying in their 
cold shrouds and narrow coffins through the drear winter 
of the grave, and cannot persuade your fancy that they 
neither shrink nor shiver when the snow is drifting over 
their little hillocks and the bitter blast how^ls against the 
door of the tomb. That gloomy thought wall collect a 
gloomy multitude and throw its complexion over your 
wakeful hour. 

In the depths of every heart there is a tomb and a dun- 
geon, though the lights, the music and revelry, above may 
cause us to forget their existence and the buried ones or 
prisoners whom they hide. But sometimes, and oftenest at 
midnight, those dark receptacles are flung wide open. In 
an hour like this, when the mind has a passive sensibility, 
but no active strength — when the imagination is a mirror 
imparting vividness to all ideas without the power of select- 
ing or controlling them — then pray that your griefs may 
slumber and the brotherhood of remorse not break their 
chain. It is too late. A funeral train comes gliding by 
your bed in which passion and feeling assume bodily shape 
and things of the mind become dim spectres to the eye. 
There is your earliest sorrow, a pale young mourner wear- 
ing a sister's likeness to first love, sadly beautiful, with a 
hallowed sweetness in her melancholy features and grace in 
the flow of her sable robe. Next appears a shade of ruined 
loveliness with dust among her golden hair and her bright 
garments all faded and defaced, stealing from your glance 
with drooping head, as fearful of reproach : she was your 
fondest hope, but a delusive one ; so call her Disappoint- 
ment now. A sterner form succeeds, with a brow of wrin- 


kles, a look and gesture of iron authority ; there is no name 
for him unless it be Fatality — an emblem of the evil influ- 
ence that rules your fortunes, a demon to whom you sub- 
jected yourself by some error at the outset of life, and were 
bound his slave for ever by once obeying him. See those 
fiendish lineaments graven on the darkness, the writhed lip 
of scorn, the mockery of that living eye, the pointed finger 
touching the sore place in your heart I Do you remember 
any act of enormous folly at which you would blush even 
in the remotest cavern of the earth ? Then recognize your 

Pass, wretched band ! Well for the wakeful one if, riot- 
ously miserable, a fiercer tribe do not surround him — the 
devils of a guilty heart that holds its hell within itself. 
What if Remorse should assume the features of an injured 
friend? What if the fiend should come in woman's gar- 
ments with a pale beauty amid sin and desolation, and lie 
down by your side ? What if he should stand at your bed's 
foot in the likeness of a corpse with a bloody stain upon 
the shroud ? Sufficient without such guilt is this nightmare 
of the soul, this heavy, heavy sinking of the spirits, thi.-^ 
wintry gloom about the heart, this indistinct horror of the 
mind blending itself with the darkness of the chamber. 

By a desperate effort you start upright, breaking from a 
sort of conscious sleep and gazing wildly round the bed, as 
if the fiends were anywhere but in your haunted mind. 
At the same moment the slumbering embers on the hearth 
send forth a gleam which palely illuminates the whole 
outer room and flickers through the door of the bed- 
chamber, but cannot quite dispel its obscurity. Your eye 
searches for whatever may remind you of the living world. 
With eager minuteness you take note of the table near the 
fireplace, the book with an ivory knife between its leaves, 
the unfolded letter, the hat and the fallen glove. Soon the 
flame vanishes, and with it the whole scene is gone, though 
its image remains an instant in your mind's eye when dark- 


ness has swallowed the reality. Throughout the chamber 
there is the same obscurity as before, but not the ssime 
gloom within your breast. 

As your head falls back upon the pillow you think — in 
a whisper be it spoken — how pleasant in these night soli- 
tudes would be the rise and fall of a softer breathiuir than 
your own, the slight pressure of a tenderer bosom, the quiet 
throb of a purer heart, imparting its peacefulness to your 
troubled one, as if the fond sleeper were involving you in 
her dream. Her inliuence is over you, though she have no 
existence but in that momentary image. You sink down 
in a flowery spot on the borders of sleep and wakefulness, 
while your thoughts rise before you in pictures, all dis- 
connected, yet all assimilated by a pervading gladsomeness 
and beauty. The wheeling of gorgeous squadrons that 
glitter in the sun is succeeded by the merriment of chil- 
dren round the door of a schoolhouse beneath the glim- 
mering shadow of old trees at the corner of a rustic lane. 
You stand in the sunny rain of a summer shower, and 
wander among the sunny trees of an autumnal wood, and 
look upward at the brightest of all rainbow^s overarching 
the unbroken sheet of snow on the American side of 
Niagara. Your mind struggles pleasantly between the 
dancing radiance round the hearth of a young man and 
his recent bride and tlie twittering flight of birds in spring 
about their new-made nest. You feel the merry bounding 
of a ship before the breeze, and watch the tuneful feet of 
rosy girls as they twine their last and merriest dance in a 
splendid ball-room, and find yourself in the brilliant circle 
of a crowded theatre as the curtain falls over a light and 
airy scene. 

With an involuntary start you seize hold on conscious-' 
ness, and prove yourself but half aAvake by running a 
doubtful parallel between human life and the hour whicli 
has now elapsed. In both you emerge from mystery, pass 
through a vicissitude that you can but imperfectly control. 


and are borne onward to another mystery. Now comes the 
peal of the distant clock with fainter and fainter strokes as 
you plunge farther into the wilderness of sleep. It is the 
knell of a temporary death. Your spirit has departed, 
and strays like a free citizen among the people of a 
shadowy world, beholding strange sights, yet without won- 
der or dismay. So calm, perhaps, will be the final change 
— so undisturbed, as if among familiar things, the entrance 
of the soul to its eternal home. 



Come! another log upon the hearth. True, our little 
parlor is comfortable, especially here "wiiere the old man 
sits in his old arm-chair ; but on Thanksgiving-night the 
blaze should dance higher up the chimney and send a 
shower of sparks into the outer darkness. Toss on an arm- 
ful of those dry oak chips, the last relicts of the Mermaid's 
knee-timbers — the bones of your namesake, Susan. Higher 
yet, and clearer, be the blaze, till our cottage windows glow 
the ruddiest in the village and the light of our household 
mirth flash far across the bay to Nahant. 

And now come, Susan ; come, my children. Draw your 
chairs round me, all of you. There is a dimness over your 
figures. You sit quivering indistinctly with each motion 
of the blaze, which eddies about you like a flood ; so that 
you all have the look of visions or people that dwell only 
in the firelight, and will vanish from existence as completely 
as your own shadows when the flame shall sink among the 

Hark ! let me listen for the swell of the surf; it should 
be audible a mile inland on a night like this. Yes ; there 
I catch the sound, but only an uncertain murmur, as if a 
good way down over the beach, though by the almanac it 
is high tide at eight o'clock, and the billows must now be 
dashing within thirty yards of our door. Ah ! the old man's 
cars are failing him, and so is his eyesight, and perhaps his 



mind, else you would not all be so shadowy in the blaze of 
his Thanksgiving fire. 

How strangely the past is peeping over the shoulders of 
the present ! To judge by my recollections, it is but a few 
moments since I sat in another room. Yonder model of a 
vessel was not there, nor the old chest of drawers, nor 
Susan's profile and mine in that gilt frame — nothing, in 
short, except this same fire, which glimmered on books, 
papers and a picture, and half discovered my solitary figure 
in a looking-glass. But it was paler than my rugged old 
self, and younger, too, by almost half a century. 

Speak to me, Susan ; speak, my beloved ones ; for the 
scene is glimmering on my sight again, and as it brightens 
you fade away. Oh, I should be loth to lose my treasure 
of past happiness and become once more what I was then — 
a hermit in the depths of my own mind, sometimes yawning 
over drowsy volumes and anon a scribbler of wearier trash 
than what I read ; a man who had wandered out of the real 
world and got into its shadow, where his troubles, joys and 
vicissitudes were of such slight stuff that he hardly knew 
whether he lived or only dreamed of living. Thank 
Heaven I am an old man now and have done with all 
such vanities I 

Still this dimness of mine eyes ! — Come nearer, Susan, 
and stand before the fullest blaze of the hearth. Now I 
behold you illuminated from head to foot, in your clean 
cap and decent go^vn, with the dear lock of gray hair across 
your forehead and a quiet smile about your mouth, while 
the eyes alone are concealed by the red gleam of the fire 
upon your spectacles. There ! you made me tremble again. 
When the flame quivered, my sweet Susan, you quivered 
with it and grew indistinct, as if melting into the warm 
light, that my last glimpse of you might be as \'isionary as 
the first was, full many a year since. Do you remember it? 
You stood on the little bridge over the brook that runs 
across King's Beach into the sea. It was twilight, the waves 


rolling in, the wind sweeping by, the crimson clouds fading 
in the west and the silver moon brightening above the hill ; 
and on the bridge w^ere you, fluttering in the breeze like a 
sea-bird that might skim away at your pleasure. You 
seemed a daughter of the viewless wind, a creature of the 
ocean-foam and the crimson light, whose merry life was 
spent in dancing on the crests of the billows that threw up 
their spray to support your footsteps. As I drew nearer I 
fancied you akin to the race of mermaids, and thought how 
pleasant it would be to dwell with you among the quiet coves 
in the shadow of the cliffs, and to roam along secluded 
beaches of the purest sand, and, w^ien our Northern shores 
grew bleak, to liaunt the islands, green and lonely, far amid 
summer seas. And yet it gladdened me, after all this non- 
sense, to find you nothing but a pretty young girl sadly 
perplexed with the rude behavior of the wind about your 
petticoats. Thus I did with Susan as with most other things 
in my earlier days, dipping her image into my mind and 
coloring it of a thousand fantastic hues before I could see 
her as she really was. 

Now, Susan, for a sober picture of our village. It was a 
small collection of dwellings that seemed to have been cast 
up by the sea with the rock-weed and marine plants that it 
vomits after a storm, or to have come ashore among the 
pipe-staves and other lumber which had been w^ashed from 
the deck of an Eastern schooner. There was just space for 
the narrow and sandy street between the beach in front and 
a precipitous hill that lifted its rocky forehead in the rear 
among a waste of juniper-bushes and the Avild growth of a 
broken pasture. The village was picturesque in the variety 
of its edifices, though all were rude. Here stood a little old 
hovel, built, perhaps, of driftwood, there a row of boat- 
houses, and beyond them a two-story dwelling of dark and 
weatherbeaten aspect, the whole intermixed with one or two 
snug cottages painted white, a sufiiciency of pig-styes and a 
shoemaker's shop. Two grocery stores stood opposite each 


other in the centre of the village. These were the places 
of resort at their idle hours of a hardy throng of fishermen 
in red baize shirts, oilcloth trousers and boots of brown 
leather covering the whole leg — true seven-league boots, but 
fitter to wade the ocean than walk the earth. The wearers 
seemed amphibious, as if they did but creep out of salt 
water to sun themselves ; nor would it have been wonderful 
to see their lower limbs covered with clusters of little shell- 
fish such as cling to rocks and old shij^-timber over which 
the tide ebbs and Hows. AYhen their fleet of boats was 
weather-bound, the butchers raised their price, and the spit 
was busier than the frying-pan ; for this was a j^lace of 
fish, and known as such to all the countiy round about. 
The very air was fishy, being perfumed with dead sculpins, 
hard-heads and dogfish strewn plentifully on the beach. — 
You see, children, the village is but little changed since 
your mother and I were young. 

How like a dream it was when I bent over a pool of 
water one pleasant morning and saw that the ocean had 
dashed its spray over me and made me a fisherman ! There 
was the tarpaulin, the baize shirt, the oilcloth trousers and 
seven-league boots, and there my own features, but so red- 
dened with sunburn and sea-breezes that methought I had 
another face, and on other shoulders too. The seagulls and 
tiie loons and I had now all one trade : we skimmed the 
crested waves and sought our prey beneath them, the man 
with as keen enjoyment as the birds. Always when the east 
grew purple I launched my dory, my little flat-bottomed 
skifl', and rowed cross-handed to Point Ledge, the Middle 
Ledge, or perhaps beyond Egg Rock ; often, too, did I an- 
chor off Dread Ledge — a spot of peril to ships unpiloted — 
and sometimes spread an adventurous sail and tracked 
across the bay to South Shore, casting my lines in sight of 
Scituate. Ere nightfall I hauled my skiff high and dry on 
the beach, laden with red rock-cod or the white-bellied ones 
of deep water, haddock bearing the black marks of St 


Peter's fingers near the gills, the long-bearded hake whose 
liver holds oil enough for a midnight lamp, and now and 
then a mighty halibut with a back broad as my boat. In 
the autumn I toled and caught those lovely fish the mack- 
erel. When the wind was high, when the whale-boats an- 
chored off the Point nodded their slender masts at each 
other and the dories pitched and tossed in the surf, when 
Nahant Beach was thundering three miles oflP and the spray 
broke a hundred feet in the air round the distant base of 
Egg Rock, when the brimful and boisterous sea threatened 
to tumble over the street of our village, — then I made a 
holiday on shore. 

Many such a day did I sit snugly in Mr. Bartlett's store, 
attentive to the yarns of Uncle Parker — uncle to the whole 
village by right of seniority, but of Southern blood, with 
no kindred in New England. His figure is before me now 
enthroned upon a mackerel-barrel — a lean old man of great 
height, but bent with years and twisted into an uncouth 
shape by seven broken limbs ; furrowed, also, and weather- 
worn, as if every gale for the better part of a century had 
caught him somewhere on the sea. He looked like a har- 
binger of tempest — a shipmate of the Flying Dutchman. 
After innumerable voyages aboard men-of-war and mer- 
chantmen, fishing-schooners and chebacco-boats, the old salt 
had become master of a hand-cart, which he daily trundled 
about the vicinity, and sometimes blew his fish-horn through 
the streets of Salem. One of Uncle Parker's eyes had been 
blown out with gunpowder, and the other did but glimmer 
in its socket. Turning it upward as he spoke, it was his 
delight to tell of cruises against the French and battles 
vrith his own shipmates, when he and an antagonist used to 
be seated astride of a sailor's chest, each fastened down by 
a spike-nail through his trousers, and there to fight it out. 
Sometimes he expatiated on the delicious flavor of the hag- 
den, a greasy and goose-like fowl which the sailors catch 
with hook and line on the Grand Banks, He dwelt with 


rapture on an interminable winter at the Isle of Sables, 
where he had gladdened himself amid polar snows with 
the rum and sugar saved from the wreck of a West India 
schooner. And wrathfully did he shake his fist as he re- 
lated how a party of Cape Cod men had robbed him and 
his companions of their lawful spoils and sailed away with 
every keg of old Jamaica, leaving him not a drop to drown 
his sorrow. Villains they were, and of that wicked brother- 
hood who are said to tie lanterns to horses' tails to mislead 
the mariner along the dangerous shores of the Cape. 

Even now I seem to see the group of fishermen with that 
"bid salt in the midst. One fellow sits on the counter, a sec- 
ond bestrides an oil-barrel, a third lolls at his length on a 
parcel of new cod-lines, and another has planted the tarry 
seat of his trousers on a heap of salt which will shortly be 
sprinkled over a lot of fish. They are a likely set of men. 
Some have voyaged to the East Indies or the Pacific, and 
most of them have sailed in Marblehead schooners to New- 
foundland ; a few have been no farther than the Middle 
Banks, and one or two have always fished along the shore ; 
but, as Uncle Parker used to say, they have all been chris- 
tened in salt v>^ater and know more than men ever learn in 
the bushes. A curious figure, by way of contrast, is a fish- 
dealer from far up-country listening with eyes wide open to 
narratives that might startle Sinbad the Sailor. — Be it well 
with you, my brethren ! ' Ye are all gone — some to your 
graves ashore and others to the depths of ocean — but my 
faith is strong that ye are happy ; for whenever I behold 
your forms, whether in dream or vision, each departed 
friend is puffing his long nine, and a mug of the right black- 
strap goes round from lip to lip. 

But where was the mermaid in those delightful times ? 
At a certain window near the centre of the village appeared 
a pretty display of gingerbread men and horses, picture- 
books and ballads, small fish-hooks, pins, needles, sugar- 
plums and brass thimbles—articles on which the young 



fishermen used to expend tlieir money from pure gallantry. 
What a picture was Susan behind the counter ! A slender 
maiden, though the child of rugged parents, she had the 
slimmest of all waists, brown hair curling on her neck, and 
a complexion rather pale except when the sea-breeze flushed 
it. A few freckles became beauty-spots beneath her eye- 
lids. — How was it, Susan, that you talked and acted so 
carelessly, yet always for the best, doing whatever was right 
in your own eyes, and never once doing wrong in mine, nor 
shocked a taste that had been morbidly sensitive till now? 
And whence had you that happiest gift of brightening every 
topic with an unsought gayety, quiet but irresistible, so that 
even gloomy spirits felt your sunshine and did not shrink 
from it? Nature wrought the charm. She made you a 
frank, simple, kind-hearted, sensible and mirthful girl. 
Obeying Nature, you did free things without indelicacy, dis- 
played a maiden's thoughts to every eye, and proved your- 
self as innocent as naked Eve. — It was beautiful to observe 
how her simple and happy nature mingled itself with mine. 
She kindled a domestic fire within my heart and took up 
her dwelling there, even in that chill and lonesome cavern 
hung round with glittering icicles of fancy. She gave me 
warmth of feeling, while the influence of my mind made 
her contemplative. I taught her to love the moonlight 
hour, when the expanse of the encircled bay was smooth as 
a great mirror and slept in a transparent shadow, while be- 
yond Nahant the wind rippled the dim ocean into a dreamy 
brightness which grew faint afar off" without becoming 
gloomier. I held her hand and pointed to the long surf- 
wave as it rolled calmly on the beach in an unbroken line 
of silver ; we were silent together till its deep and peaceful 
murmur had swe2)t by us. When the Sabbath sun shone 
down into the recesses of the clifls, I led the mermaid 
thither and told her that those huge gray, shattered rocks, 
and her native sea that raged for ever like a storm against 
them, and her own slender beauty in so stern a scene, were 


all combined into a strain of poetry. But on the Sabbath- 
eve, when her mother had gone early to bed and her gentle 
sister had smiled and left us, as we sat alone by the quiet 
hearth with household things around, it was her turn to 
make me feel that here was a deeper poetry, and that this 
was the dearest hour of all. Thus w^nt on our wooing, till 
I had shot wild-fowl enough to feather our bridal-bed, and 
the daughter of the sea was mine. 

I built a cottage for Susan and myself, and made a gate- 
way in the form of a Gothic arch by setting up a whale's 
jaw-bones. AVe bought a heifer with her first calf, and had 
a little garden on the hillside to supply us with potatoes 
and green sauce for our fish. Our parlor, small and neat, 
was ornamented with our two profiles in one gilt frame, and 
with shells and pretty pebbles on the mantelpiece, selected 
from the sea's treasury of such things on Nahant Beach. 
On the desk, beneath the looking-glass, lay the Bible, which 
I had begun to read aloud at the book of Genesis, and the 
singing-book that Susan used for her evening psalm. Ex- 
cept the almanac, we had no other literature. All that I 
heard of books was when an Indian history or tale of ship- 
wreck was sold by a pedler or wandering subscription-man 
to some one in the village, and read through its owner's 
nose to a slumbrous auditory. 

Like my brother-fishermen, I grew into the belief that 
all human erudition was collected in our pedagogue, whose 
green spectacles and solemn phiz as he passed to his little 
schoolhouse amid a waste of sand might have gained him 
a diploma from any college in New England. In truth, I 
dreaded him. — When our children w^ere old enough to claim 
his care, you remember, Susan, how I frowned, though you 
were pleased at this learned man's encomiums on their pro- 
ficiency. I feared to trust them even w^ith the alphabet : 
it was the key to a fiital treasure. But I loved to lead them 
by their little hands along the beach 'and point to nature in 
the vast and the minute — the sky, the sea, the green earth, 


the pebbles and the shells. Then did I discourse of the 
mighty works and coextensive goodness of the Deity with 
the simple wisdom of a man whose mind had profited by 
lonely days upon the deep and his heart by the strong and 
pure affections of his evening home. Sometimes my voice 
lost itself in a tremulous depth, for I felt his eye upon me 
as I spoke. Once, while my wife and all of us were gazing 
at ourselves in the mirror left by the tide in a hollow of the 
sand, I pointed to the pictured heaven below and bade her 
observe how religion was strewn everywhere in our path^ 
since even a casual pool of water recalled the idea of that 
home whither we were travelling to rest for ever with our 
children. Suddenly your image, Susan, and all the little 
faces made up of yours and mine, seemed to fade away and 
vanish around me, leaving a pale visage like my own of 
former days within the frame of a large looking-glass. 
Strange illusion I 

My life glided on, the past appearing to mingle with the 
present and absorb the future, till the whole lies before me 
at a glance. My manhood has long been waning with a 
stanch decay ; my earlier contemporaries, after lives of un- 
broken health, are all at rest without having known the 
weariness of later age ; and now with a wrinkled forehead 
and thin white hair as badges of my dignity I have become 
the patriarch — the uncle — of the village. I love that 
name : it widens the circle of my sympathies ; it joins all 
the youthful to my household in the kindred of affection. 

Like Uncle Parker, whose rheumatic bones were dashed 
against Egg Rock full forty years ago, I am a spinner of 
long yarns. Seated on the gunnel of a dory or on the sunny 
side of a boat-house, where the warmth is grateful to my 
limbs,, or by my own hearth when a friend or two are there, 
I overflow with talk, and yet am never tedious. With a 
broken voice I give utterance to much wisdom. Such, 
Heaven be praised ! is the vigor of my faculties that many 


a forgotten usage, and traditions ancient in my youth, and 
early adventures of myself or others hitherto effaced by 
things more recent, acquire new distinctness in my memory. 
I remember the happy days when the haddock w^ere more 
numerous on all the fishing-grounds than sculpins in the 
surf — when the deep-water cod swam close in-shore, and 
the dogfish, with his poisonous horn, had not learnt to take 
the hook. I can number every equinoctial storm in which 
the sea has overwhelmed the street, flooded the cellars of 
the village and hissed upon our kitchen hearth. I give the 
history of the great whale that was landed on Whale Beach, 
and whose jaws, being now my gateway, w^ill last for ages 
after my coffin shall have passed beneath them. Thence it 
is an easy digression to the halibut — scarcely smaller than 
the whale — which ran out six codlines and hauled my doiy 
to the mouth of Boston harbor before I could touch him 
with the gaff. 

If melancholy accidents be the theme of conversation, I 
tell how a friend of mine was taken out of his boat by an 
enormous shark, and the sad, true tale of a young man on 
the eve of marriage who had been nine days missing, when 
his drowned body floated into the very pathway on Marble- 
head Neck that had often led him to the dwelling of his bride, 
as if the dripping corpse would have come where the mourner 
was. With such awful fidelity did that lover return to fulfil 
his vows ! Another favorite story is of a crazy maiden who 
conversed with angels and had the gift of prophecy, and 
whom all the village loved and pitied, though she went 
:from door to door accusing us of sin, exhorting to repent- 
ance and foretelling our destruction by flood or earthquake. 
If the young men boast their knowledge of the ledges 
and sunken rocks, I speak of pilots who knew the wind by 
its scent and the wave by its taste, and could have steered 
blindfold to any port between Boston and Mount Desert 
guided only by the rote of the shore — the peculiar sound 
«f the surf on each island, beach and line of rocks along 


the coast. Thus do I talk, and all my auditors grow wise 
while they deem it pastime. 

I recollect no happier portion of my life than this my 
calm old age. It is like the sunny and sheltered slope of a 
valley where late in the autumn the grass is greener than 
in August, and intermixed with golden dandelions that had 
not been seen till now since the first warmth of the year. 
But with me the verdure and the flowers are not frost-bitten 
in the midst of winter. A playfulness has revisited my 
mind — a sympathy with the young and gay, an unpainful 
interest in the business of others, a light and wandering 
curiosity — arising, perhaps, from the sense that my toil on 
earth is ended and the brief hour till bedtime may be spent 
in play. Still, I have fancied that there is a depth of feel- 
ing and reflection under this superficial levity peculiar to 
one who has lived long and is soon to die. 

Show me anything that would make an infant smile, and 
you shall behold a gleam of mirth over the hoary ruin of 
my visage. I can spend a pleasant hour in the sun watch- 
ing the sports of the village children on the edge of the 
surf. Now they chase the retreating wave far down over 
the wet sand ; now it steals softly up to kiss their naked 
feet ; now it comes onward with threatening front, and roars 
after the laughing crew as they scamper beyond its reach. 
Why should not an old man be merry too, when the great 
sea is at play with those little children ? I delight, also, to 
follow in the wake of a pleasure-party of young men and 
girls strolling along the beach after an early supper at the 
Point. Here, with handkerchiefs at nose, they bend over a 
heap of eel-grass entangled in which is a dead skate so oddly 
accoutred with two legs and a long tail that they mistake 
him for a drowned animal. A few steps farther the ladies 
scream, and the gentlemen make ready to protect them 
against a young shark of the dogfish kind rolling with a 
lifelike motion in the tide that has thrown him up. Next 
they are smit with wonder at the black shells of a wagon- 


load of live lobsters packed in rock-weed for the country 
market. And when they reach the fleet of dories just 
hauled ashore after the day's fishing, how do I laugh in my 
sleeve, and sometimes roar outright; at the simplicity of 
these young folks and the sly humor of the fishermen ! In 
winter, when our village is thrown into a bustle by the ar- 
rival of perhaps a score of country dealers bargaining for 
frozen fish to be transported hundreds of miles and eaten 
fresh in Vermont or Canada, I am a pleased but idle spec- 
tator in the throng. For I launch my boat no more. 

AVhen the shore was solitary, I have found a pleasure 
that seemed even to exalt my mind in observing the sports 
or contentions of two gulls as they wheeled and hovered 
about each other with hoarse screams, one moment flapping 
on the foam of the wave, and then soaring aloft till their 
white bosoms melted into the uj^per sunshine. In the calm 
of the summer sunset I drag my aged limbs with a little 
ostentation of activity, because I am so old, up to the rocky 
brow of the hill. There I see the white sails of many a 
vessel outward bound or homeward from afar, and the black 
trail of a vapor behind the Eastern steamboat ; there, too, 
is the sun, going down, but not in gloom, and there the illim- 
itable ocean mingling with the sky, to remind me of 

But sweetest of all is the hour of cheerful musing and 
pleasant talk that comes between the dusk and the lighted 
candle by my glowing fireside. And never, even on the 
first Thanksgiving-night, w^hen Susan and I sat alone with 
our hopes, nor the second, when a stranger had been sent to 
gladden us and be the visible image of our afi:ection, did I 
feel such joy as now. All that belongs to me are here ; 
Death has taken none, nor Disease kept them away, nor 
Strife divided them from their parents or each other ; with 
neither poverty nor riches to disturb them, nor the misery 
of desires beyond their lot, they have kept New England's 
festival round the patriarch's board. For I am a patriarch. 


Here I sit among my descendants, in my old arm-chair and 
immemorial corner, while the iirelight throws an appropriate 
glory round my venerable fi*ame. — Susan ! My children ! 
Something whispers me that this happiest hour must be the 
final one, and that nothing remains but to bless you all and 
depart with a treasure of recollected joys to heaven. Will 
you meet me there ? Alas ! your figures grow indistinct, 
fading into pictures on the air, and now to fainter outlines, 
while the fire is glimmering on the walls of a familiar room, 
and shows the book that I flung down and the sheet that I 
left half written some fifty years ago. I lift my eyes to the 
looking-glass, and perceive myself alone, unless those be the 
mermaid's features retiring into the depths of the mirror 
with a tender and melancholy smile. 

Ah ! One feels a chilliness — not bodily, but about the 
heart — and, moreover, a foolish dread of looking behind 
him, after these pastimes. I can imagine precisely how a 
magician would sit down in gloom and terror after dismiss- 
ing the shadows that had personated dead or distant people 
and stripping his cavern of the unreal splendor which had 
changed it to a palace. 

And now for a moral to my reverie. Shall it be that, 
since fancy can create so bright a dream of happiness, it 
were better to dream on from youth to age than to awake 
and strive doubtfully for something real ? Oh, the slight 
tissue of a dream can no more preserve us from the stem 
reality of misfortune than a robe of cobweb could repel the 
wintry blast. Be this the moral, then : In chaste and warm 
afiections, humble wishes and honest toil for some useftil 
end there is health for the mind and quiet for the heart, 
the prospect of a happy life and the fairest hope of 



One September night a family had gathered round their 
hearth and piled it high with the driftwood of mountain- 
streams, the dry cones of the pine, and the sj^lintered ruins 
of great trees that had come crashing down the precipice. 
Up the chimney roared the fire, and brightened the room 
with its broad blaze. The faces of the father and mother 
had a sober gladness; the children laughed. The eldest 
daughter was the image of Happiness at seventeen, and the 
aged grandmother, who sat knitting in the warmest place, 
was the image of Happiness grown old. They had found 
the "herb heart's-ease " in the bleakest spot of all New 
England. This family were situated in the Notch of the 
White Hills, where the wind was sharp throughout the year 
and pitilessly cold in the winter, giving their cottage all its 
fresh inclemency before it descended on the valley of the 
Saco. They dwelt in a cold spot and a dangerous one, for 
a mountain towered above their heads so steep that the 
stones would often rumble down its sides and startle them 
at midnight. 

The daughter had just uttered some simple jest that filled 
them all with mirth, when the wind came through the Notch 
and seemed to pause before their cottage, rattling the door 
with a sound of wailing and lamentation before it passed 
into the valley. For a moment it saddened them, though 
there was nothing unusual in the tones. But the family 
were glad again when they perceived that the latch was 
lifted by some traveller whose footsteps had been unheard 



amid the dreary blast which heralded his approach and 
"wailed as he was entering and went moaning away from 
the door. 

Though they dwelt in such a solitude, these people held 
daily converse with the world. The romantic pass of the 
Notch is a great artery through which the life-blood of in- 
ternal commerce is continually throbbing between Maine 
on one side and the Green Mountains and the shores of the 
St. Lawrence on the other. The stage-coach always drew 
up before the door of the cottage. The wayfarer with no 
companion but his staff paused here to exchange a word, 
that the sense of loneliness might not utterly overcome him 
ere he could pass through the cleft of the mountain or reach 
the first house in the valley. And here the teamster on his 
way to Portland market would put up for the night, and, if 
a bachelor, might sit an hour beyond the usual bedtime and 
steal a kiss from the mountain-maid at parting. It was one 
of those primitive taverns where the traveller pays only for 
food and lodging, but meets with a homely kindness beyond 
all price. AVhen the footsteps were heard, therefore, be- 
tween the outer door and the inner one, the whole family 
rose up, grandmother, children and all, as if about to wel- 
come some one who belonged to them, and whose fate was 
linked with theirs. 

The door was opened by a young man. His face at first 
wore the melancholy expression, almost despondency, of one 
who travels a wild and bleak road at nightfall and alone, 
but soon brightened up when he saw the kindly warmth of 
his reception. He felt his heart spring forward to meet 
them all, from the old woman who wiped a chair with her 
apron to the little child that held out its arms to him. One 
glance and smile placed the sti anger on a footing of inno- 
cent familiarity with the eldest daughter. 

" Ah ! this fire is the right thing," cried he, " especially 
when there is such a pleasant circle round it. I am quite 
benumbed, for the Notch is just like the pipe of a great pair 


of bellows ; It has blown a terrible blast in ray face ail tlie 
way from Bartlett." 

" Then you are going toward Vermont ?" said the master 
of the house as he helped to take a light knapsack off the 
young man's shoulders. 

" Yes, to Burlington, and far enough beyond," replied he. 
"I meant to have been at Ethan Crawford's to-night, but a 
pedestrian lingers along such a road as this. It is no matter ; 
for when I saw this good fire and all your cheerful faces, I 
felt as if you had kindled it on purpose for me and were 
waiting my arrival. So I shall sit down among you and 
make myself at home." 

The frank-hearted stranger had just drawn his chair to 
the fire when something like a heavy footstep was heard 
without, rushing down the steep side of the mountain as 
with long and rapid strides, and taking such a leap in passing 
the cottage as to strike the opposite precipice. The family 
held their breath, because they knew the sound, and their 
guest held his by instinct. 

" The old mountain has thrown a stone at us for fear we 
should forget him," said the landlord, recovering himself. 
" He sometimes nods his head and threatens to come down, 
but we are old neighbors, and agree together pretty well, 
upon the whole. Besides, we have a sure ^place of refuge 
hard by if he should be coming in good earnest." 

Let us now suppose the stranger to have finished his sup- 
per of bear's meat, and by his natural felicity of manner to 
have placed himself on a footing of kindness with the whole 
family ; so that they talked as freely together as if he be- 
longed to their mountain-brood. He \vas of a proud yet 
gentle spirit, haughty and reserved among the rich and 
great, but ever ready to stoop his head to the lowly cottage 
door and be like a brother or a son at the poor man's fire- 
side. In the household of the Notch he found warmth and 
simplicity of feeling, the pervading intelligence of New 
England, and a poetry of native growth which they had 


gathered when they little thought of it from the mountain- 
peaks and chasms, and at the very threshold of their ro- 
mantic and dangerous abode. He had travelled far ?.nd 
alone ; his whole life, indeed, had been a solitary path, for, 
with the lofty caution of his nature, he had kept himself 
apart from those who might otherwise have been his com- 
panions. The family, too, though so kind and hospitable, 
had that consciousness of unity among themselves and sep- 
aration from the world at large which in every domestic 
circle should still keep a holy place where no stranger may 
intrude. But this evening a prophetic sympathy impelled 
the refined and educated youth to pour out his heart before 
the simple mountaineers, and constrained them to answer 
him with the same free confidence. And thus it should 
have been. Is not the kindred of a common fate a closer 
tie than that of birth ? 

The secret of the young man's character was a high and 
abstracted ambition. He could have borne to live an un- 
distinguished life, but not to be forgotten in the grave. 
Yearning desire had been transformed to hope, and hope, 
long cherished, had become like certainty that, obscurely 
as he journeyed now, a glory was to .beam on all his path- 
way, though not, perhaps, while he was treading it. But 
when posterity should gaze back into the gloom of what 
was now the present, they would trace the brightness of 
his footsteps, brightening as meaner glories faded, and con- 
fess that a gifted one had passed from his cradle to his 
tomb with none to recognize him. 

" As yet," cried the stranger, his cheek glowing and his 
eye flashing with enthusiasm — " as yet I have done noth- 
ing. Were I to vanish from the earth to-morrow, nono 
would know so much of me as you — that a nameless youth 
came up at nightfall from the valley of the Saco, and 
opened his heart to you in the evening, and passed through 
the Notch by sunrise, and was seen no more. Not a soul 
would ask, * Who was he ? Whither did the wanderer go T 


But I cannot die till I have achieved my destiny. Then 
let Death come : I shall have built my monument." 

There was a continual flow of natural emotion gushing 
forth amid abstracted reverie which enabled the family to 
understand this young man's sentiments, though so foreign 
from their own. With quick sensibility of the ludicrous, 
he blushed at the ardor into which he had been betrayed. 

" You laugh at me," said he, taking the eldest daughter's 
hand and laughing himself. " You think my ambition as 
nonsensical as if I were to freeze myself to death on the top 
of Mount Washington only that people might spy at me 
from the country roundabout. And truly that would be a 
noble pedestal for a man's statue." 

" It is better to sit here by this fire," answered the girl, 
blushing, " and be comfortable and contented, though no- 
body thinks about us." 

" I suppose," said her father, after a fit of musing, " there 
is something natural in what the young man says ; and if 
my mind had been turned that way, I might have felt just 
the same. — It is strange, wife, how his talk has set my head 
running on things that are pretty certain never to come to 

" Perhaps they may," observed the wife. " Is the man 
thinking what he will do when he is a widower ?" 

" No, no !" cried he, repelling the idea with reproachful 
kindness. " When I think of your death, Esther, I think 
of mine too. But I was wishing we bad a good farm in 
Bartlett or Bethlehem or Littleton, or some other township 
round the White Mountains, but not where they could 
tumble on our heads. I should want to stand well with 
my neighbors and be called squire and sent to General 
Court for a term or two ; for a plain, honest man may do 
as much good there as a lawyer. And when I should be 
grown quite an old man, and you an old woman, so as not 
to be long apart, I might die happy enough in my bed, and 
leave you all crying around me. A slate gravestone would 


suit me as well as a marble one, with just my name and 
age, and a verse of a hymn, and something to' let people 
know that I lived an honest man and died a Christian." 

" There, now !" exclaimed the stranger ; " it is our nature 
to desire a monument, be it slate or marble, or a pillar of 
granite, or a glorious memory in the universal heart of man." 

" We're in a strange way to-night," said the wife, with 
tears in her eyes. " They say it's a sign of something 
when folks' minds go a-wandering so. Hark to the chil- 
dren !" 

They listened accordingly. The younger children had 
been put to bed in another room, but with an open door 
between ; so that they could be heard talking busily among 
themselves. One and all seemed to have caught the infec- 
tion from the fireside circle, and were outvying each other 
in wild wishes and childish projects of what they would do 
when they came to be men and women. At length a little 
boy, instead of addressing his brothers and sisters, called 
out to his mother. 

*' I'll tell you what I wish, mother," cried he : "I want 
you and father and grandma'm, and all of us, and the 
stranger too, to start right away and go and take a drink 
out of the basin of the Flume." 

Nobody could help laughing at the child's notion of leav- 
ing a warm bed and dragging them from a cheerful fire to 
visit the basin of the Flume — a brook which tumbles over 
the precipice deep within the Notch. 

The boy had hardly spoken, when a wagon rattled along 
the road and stopped a moment before the door. It ap- 
peared to contain two or three men who were cheering their 
hearts with the rough chorus of a song which resounded in 
broken notes between the clifiTs, while the singers hesitated 
whether to continue their journey or put up here for the 

" Father," said the girl, " they are calling you by name." 

But the good man doubted whether they had really called 



«iim, and was unwilling to show himself too solicitous of 
gain by inviting peoj^le to patronize his house. He there- 
fore did not hurry to the door, and, the lash being soon ap- 
plied, the travellers plunged into the Kotch, still singing 
and laughing, though their music and mirth came back 
drearily from the heart of the mountain. 

" There, mother !" cried the boy, again ; " they'd have 
given us a ride to the Flume." 

Again they laughed at the child's pertinacious fancy for 
a night-ramble. But it hapj^ened that a light cloud passed 
over the daughter's spirit ; she looked gravely into the fire 
and drew a breath that was almost a sigh. It forced its 
way, in spite of a little struggle to repress it. Then, start- 
ing and blushing, she looked quickly around the circle, as 
if they had caught a glimpse into her bosom. The stranger 
asked what she had been thinking of. 

" Nothing," answered she, with a downcast smile ; " only 
I felt lonesome just then." 

" Oh, I have always had a gift of feeling what is in other 
people's hearts," said he, half seriously. " Shall I tell the 
secrets of yours ? For I know what to think when a young 
girl shivers by a warm hearth and complains of lonesome- 
ness at her mother's side. Shall I put these feelings into 
words ?" 

" They would not be a girl's feelings any longer if they 
<}Ould be put into words," replied the mountain-nymph, 
laughing, but avoiding his eye. 

All this was said apart. Perhaps a germ of love was 
springing in their hearts so pure that it might blossom in 
Paradise, since it couid not be matured on earth ; for wo- 
men worship such gentle dignity as his, and the proud, con- 
templative, yet kindly, soul is oftenest captivated by sim- 
plicity like hers. But while they spoke softly, and he was 
watching the happy sadness, the lightsome shadows, the shy 
yearnings, of a maiden's nature, the wind through the Notch 
took a deeper and drearier sound. It seemed, as the fanci- 



fal stranger said, like the choral strain of the spirits of the 
blast who in old Indian times had their dwelling among 
these mountains and made their heights and recesses a sacred 
region. There was a wail along the road as if a funeral 
were passing. To chase away the gloom, the family threw 
pine-branches on their fire till the dry leaves crackled and 
the flame arose, discovering once again a scene of peace 
and humble happiness. The light hovered about them 
fondly and caressed them all. There were the little faces 
of che children peeping from their bed apart, and here the 
father's frame of strength, the mother's subdued and careful 
mien, the high-browed youth, the budding girl and the good 
old grandam, still knitting in the warmest place. 

The aged woman looked up from her task, and with fin- 
gers ever busy was the next to speak. 

" Old folks have their notions," said she, " as well as 
young ones. You've been wishing and planning and letting 
your heads run on one thing and another till you've set my 
mind a-v/andering too. Now, what should an old woman 
wish for, when she can go but a step or two before she comes 
to her grave ? Children, it will haunt me night and day 
tm I tell you." 

"What is it, mother?" cried the husband and wife at 

Then the old woman, with an air of mystery which drew 
the circle closer round the fire, informed them that she had 
provided her grave-clothes some years before — a nice linen 
shroud, a cap with a muslin ruff, and everything of a finer 
sort than she had worn since her wedding-day. But this 
evening an old superstition had strangely recurred to her. 
It used to be said in her younger days that if anything were 
amiss with a corpse — if only the ruff were not smooth or 
the cap did not set right — the corpse, in the coffin and be- 
neath the clods, would strive to put up its cold hands and 
arrange it. The bare thought made her nervous. 

" Don't talk so, grandmother," said the girl, shuddering. 


" Now," continued the old woman, with singular earnest- 
ness, yet smiling strangely at her own folly, " I want one 
of you, my children, when your mother is dressed and in 
the coffin, — I want one of you to hold a looking-glass over 
my face. Who knows but I may take a glimpse at myself 
and see whether all's right ?" 

" Old and young, we dream of graves and monuments," 
murmured the stranger-youth. " I wonder how mariners 
feel when the ship is sinking and they, unknown and undis- 
tinguished, are to be buried together in the ocean, that wide 
and nameless sepulchre ?" 

For a moment the old woman's ghastly conception so en- 
grossed the minds of her hearers that a sound abroad in the 
night, rising like the roar of a blast, had grown broad, deep 
and terrible before the fated group were conscious of it. 
The house and all within it trembled ; the foundations of 
the earth seemed to be shaken, as if this awful sound were 
the peal of the last trump. Young and old exchanged one 
wild glance and remained an instant pale, affrighted, with- 
out utterance or power to move. Then the same shriek 
burst simultaneously from all their lips : 

" The slide ! The slide !" 

The simplest words must intimate, but not portray, the 
unutterable horror of the catastrophe. The victims rushed 
from their cottage and sought refuge in what they deemed 
a safer spot, where, in contemplation of such an emergency, 
a sort of barrier had been reared. Alas ! they had quitted 
their security and fled right into the pathway of destruc- 
tion. Down came the whole side of the mountain in a cat- 
aract of ruin. Just before it reached the house the stream 
broke into two branches, shivered not a window there, but 
overwhelmed the whole vicinity, blocked up the road and 
annihilated everything in its dreadful course. Long ere the 
thunder of that great slide had ceased to roar among the 
mountains the mortal agony had been endured and the 
victims were at peace. Their bodies were never found. 


The next morning the light smoke was seen stealing from 
the cottage chimney up the mountain-side. Within, the lire 
was yet smouldering on the hearth, and the chairs in a circle 
round it, as if the inhabitants had but gone forth to view 
the devastation of the slide and would shortly return to 
thank Heaven for their miraculous escape. All had left 
separate tokens by which those who had known the family 
were made to shed a tear for each. Who has not heard 
their name ? The story has been told far and wide, and 
will for ever be a legend of these mountains. Poets have 
sung their fate. 

There were circumstances which led some to suppose that 
a stranger had been received into the cottage on this awful 
night, and had shared the catastrophe of all its inmates ; 
others denied that there were sufficient grounds for such a 
conjecture. Woe for the high-souled j^outh with his dream 
of earthly immortality ! His name and person utterly un- 
known, his history, his w^ay of life, his plans, a mystery 
never to be solved, his deatli and his existence equally a 
doubt, — whose was the agony of that death-moment? 


Last night, between eleven and twelve o'clock, when the 
Old Year was leaving her final footprints on the borders of 
Time's empire, she found herself in possession of a few spare 
moments, and sat down — of ail places in the v.orld — on the 
steps of our new city-hall. The wintry moonlight showed 
that she looked weary of body and sad of heart, like many 
another wayfarer of earth. lier garments, liaving been 
exposed to much foul w-eather and rough usage, were in 
very ill condition, and, as the hurry of her journey had 
never before allowed her to take an instant's rest, her shoes 
were so worn as to be scarcely worth the mendiuo-. But 
after trudging only a little distance farther tiiis poor Old 
Year was destmed to enjoy a long, long sleep. I forgot to 
mention that when she seated herself on the steps she de- 
posited by her side a very capacious bandbox in which, as 
is the custom among travellers of her sex, she carried a 
great deal of valuable property. Besides this luggage, 
there was a folio book under her arm very much resembling 
the annual volume of a newspaper. Placing this volume 
across her knees and resting her elbows upon it, with her 
forehead in her hands, the weary, bedraggled, world-worn 
Old Year heaved a heavy sigh and appeared to be taking 
no very pleasant retrospect of her past existence. 

While she thus awaited the midnight knell that was to 
summon her to the innumerable sisterhood of departed 
years, there came a young maiden treading lightsomely on 




tip-toe along the street from the direction of the railroad 
depot. She was evidently a stranger, and perhaps had 
come to town by the evening train of cars. There was a 
smiling cheerfulness in this fair maiden's face which bespoke 
her fully confident of a kind reception from the multitude 
of people with whom she was soon to form acquaintance. 
Her dress was rather too airy for the season, and was bediz- 
ened with fluttering ribbons and other vanities which were 
likely soon to be rent away by the fierce storms or to fade 
in the hot sunshine amid which she was to pursue her 
changeful course. But still she was a wonderfully pleasant- 
looking figure, and had so much promise and such an inde- 
scribable hopefulness in her aspect that hardly anybody 
could meet her without anticipating some very desirable 
thing — the consummation of some long-sought good — from 
her kind offices. A few dismal characters there may be 
here and there about the world who have so often been tri- 
fled with by young maidens as promising as she that they 
have now ceased to pin any faith upon the skirts of the 
New Year. But, for my own part, I have great faith in 
her, and, should I live to see fifty more such, still from 
each of those successive sisters I shall reckon upon receiv- 
ing something that will be worth living for. 

The New Year — for this young maiden was no less a 
personage — carried all her goods and chattels in a basket 
of no great size or weight, which hung upon her arm. She 
greeted the disconsolate Old Year with great affection, and 
sat down beside her on the steps of the city-hall, waiting 
for the signal to begin her rambles through the world. 
The two were own sisters, being both granddaughters of 
Time, and, though one looked so much older than the 
other, it was rather owing to hardships and trouble than to 
age, since there was but a twelvemonth's difference between 

" Well, my dear sister," said the New Year, after the 
first salutations, " you look almost tired to death. What 


have you been about during your sojourn in this part of 
infinite space ?" 

" Oh, I have it all recorded here in my book of chroni- 
cles," answered the Old Year, in a heavy tone. " There is 
nothincr that would amuse vou, and vou will soon cret suffi- 
cient knowledge of such matters from your own personal 
experience. It is but tiresome reading." 

Nevertheless, she turned over the leaves of the folio and 
glanced at them by the light of the moon, feeling an irre- 
sistible spell of interest in her own biography, although its 
incidents were remembered without pleasure. The volume, 
though she termed it her book of chronicles, seemed to be 
neither more nor less than the Salem Gazette for 1838 ; in 
the accuracy of which journal this sagacious Old Y'ear had 
so much confidence that she deemed it needless to record 
her history with her own pen. 

"What have you been doing in the political way?" 
asked the New Y'ear. 

"Why, my course here in the United States," said the 
Old Year — " though perhaps I ought to blush at the con- 
fession — my political course, I must acknowledge, has been 
rather vacillatory, sometimes inclining toward the Whigs, 
then causing the administration party to shout for tri- 
umph, and now again uplifting what seemed the almost 
prostrate banner of the opposition ; so' that historians will 
hardly know what to make of me in this respect. But the 
Loco-Focos — " 

" I do not like these party nicknames," interrupted her 
sister, who seemed remarkably touchy about some points. 
" Perhaps we shall part in better humor if we avoid any 
political discussion." 

"With all my heart," replied the Old Year, who had 
already been tormented half to death with squabbles of 
this kind. "I care not if the name of Whig or Tory, 
with their interminable brawls about banks and the sub- 
treasury, abolition, Texas, the Florida war, and a million 


of other topics which you will learn soon enough for your 
own comfort, — I care not, I say, if no w^hisper of these 
matters ever reaches my ears again. Yet they have occu- 
pied so large a share of my attention that I scarcely know 
what else to tell you. There has, indeed been a curious 
sort of war on the Canada border, where blood has streamed 
in the names of liberty and patriotism; but it must re- 
main for some future, perhaps far-distant, year to tell 
whether or no those holy names have been rightfully in- 
voked. Nothing so much depresses me in my view of mor- 
tal affairs as to see high energies wasted and human life and 
happiness thrown away for ends that appear oftentimes un- 
wise, and still oftener remain unaccomplished. But the 
wisest people and the best keep a steadfast faith that the 
progress of mankind is onward and upward, and that the 
toil and anguish of the path serve to wear away the imper- 
fections of the immortal pilgrim, and will be felt no more 
when they have done their office." 

"Perhaps," cried the hopeful New Year — "perhaps I 
shall see that happy day." 

" I doubt whether it be so close at hand," answered the 
Old Year, gravely smiling. " You will soon grow weary 
of looking for that blessed consummation, and will turn for 
amusement — as has frequently been my own practice — to 
the affairs of some sober little city like this of Salem. 
Here we sit on the steps of the new city-hall which has 
been completed under my administration, and it would 
make you laugh to see how the game of politics of which 
the Capitol at Washington is the great chess-board is here 
played in miniature. Burning Ambition finds its fuel 
here ; here patriotism speaks boldly in the people's behalf 
and virtuous economy demands retrenchment in the emolu- 
ments of a lamplighter ; here the aldermen range their 
senatorial dignity around the mayor's chair of state and the 
common council feel that they have liberty in charge. In 
short, human weakness and strength, passion and policy, 


man's tendencies, his aims and modes of pursuing them, his 
individual character and his character in the mass, may be 
studied almost as well here as on the theatre of nations, 
and with this great advantage — that, be the lesson ever so 
disastrous, its Liliputian scope still makes the beholder 

*' Have you done much for the improvement of the city ?'* 
asked the New Year. " Judging from what little I have 
seen, it appears to be ancient and time-worn." 

" I have opened the railroad," said the elder Year, " and 
half a dozen times a day you will hear the bell which once 
summoned the monks of a Spanish convent to their devo- 
tions announcing the arrival or departure of the cars. 
Old Salem now wears a much livelier expression than when 
I first beheld her. Strangers rumble down from Boston 
by hundreds at a time. New faces throng in Essex street. 
Railroad-hacks and omnibuses rattle over the pavements. 
There is a perceptible increase of oyster-shops and other 
establishments for the accommodation of a transitory diur- 
nal multitude. But a more important change awaits the 
venerable town. An immense accumulation of musty 
prejudices will be carried off by the free circulation of 
society. A peculiarity of character of which the inhabi- 
tants themselves are hardly sensible will be rubbed down 
and worn away by the attrition of foreign substances. 
Much of the result will be good ; there will likewise be a 
few things not so good. Whether for better or worse, 
there will be a probable diminution of the moral influence 
of wealth, and the sway of an aristocratic class which from 
an era far beyond my memory has held firmer dominion 
here than in any other New England town." 

The Old Year, having talked away nearly all of her lit- 
tle remaining breath, now closed her book of chronicles, 
and was about to take her departure, but her sister detained 
her a while longer by inquiring the contents of the huge 
bandbox which she was so painfiiUy lugging along with her. 


" These are merely a few trifles," replied the Old Year, 
" which I have picked up in ray rambles and am going to 
deposit in the receptacle of things past and forgotten. We 
sisterhood of years never carry anything really valuable 
out of the world with us. Here are patterns of most of 
the fashions which I brought into vogue, and which have 
already lived out their allotted term ; you will supply their 
place with others equally ephemeral. Here, put up in little 
china pots, like rouge, is a considerable lot of beautiful 
women's bloom which the disconsolate fair ones owe me a 
bitter grudge for stealing. I have likewise a quantity of 
men's dark hair, instead of which I have left gray locks or 
none at all. The tears of widows and other afflicted mor- 
tals who have received comfort during the last twelve 
months are preserved in some dozens of essence-bottles well 
corked and sealed. I have several bundles of love-letters 
eloquently breathing an eternity of burning passion which 
grew cold and perished almost before the ink was dry. 
Moreover, here is an assortment of many thousand broken 
promises and other broken ware, all very light and packed 
into little space. The heaviest articles in my possession are 
a large parcel of disappointed hopes which a little while 
ago were buoyant enough to have inflated Mr. Lauriat's 

" I have a fine lot of hopes here in my basket," remarked 
the New Year. " They are a sweet-smelling flower — a spe- 
cies of rose." 

" They soon lose their perfume," replied the sombre Old 
Year. " What else have you brought to insure a welcome 
from the discontented race of mortals ?'* 

" Why, to say the truth, little or nothing else," said her 
sister, with a smile, " save a few new Annuals and alma- 
nacs, and some New Year's gifts for the children. But I 
heartily wish well to poor mortals, and mean to do ail I 
can for their improvement and happiness." 

" It is a good resolution," rejoined the Old Year, " And, 


by Ihs way, I have a plentiful assortment of good resolu- 
tions which have now grown so stale and musty that I am 
ashamed to carry them any farther. Only for fear that the 
city authorities would send Constable Manfcfield with a 
warrant after me, I should toss them into the street at once. 
Many other matters go to make up the contents of my 
bandbox, but the whole lot would not fetch a single bid 
even at an auction of worn-out furniture ; and as they are 
worth nothing either to you or anybody else, I need not 
trouble you with a longer catalogue." 

" And must I also pick up such worthless luggage in my 
travels ?" asked the New Year. 

" Most certainly, and well if you have no heavier load to 
bear," replied the other. " And now, my dear sister, I must 
bid you farewell, earnestly advising and exhorting you to 
expect no gratitude nor good-will from this peevish, unrea- 
sonable, inconsiderate, ill-intending and worse-behaving 
world. However warmly its inhabitants may seem to wel- 
come you, yet, do what you may and lavish on them what 
means of happiness you please, they will still be complain- 
ing, still craving what it is not in your power to give, still 
looking forward to some other year for the accomplishment 
of projects which ought never to have been formed, and 
which, if successful, would only provide new occasions of 
discontent. If these ridiculous people ever see anything 
tolerable in you, it will be after you are gone for ever." 

" But I," cried the fresh-hearted New Year — " I shall try 
to leave men wiser than I find them. I will ofier them 
freely whatever good gifts Providence permits me to dis- 
tribute, and will tell them to be thankful for what they 
have and humbly hopeful for more ; and surely, if they are 
not absolute fools, they will condescend to be happy, and 
will allow me to be a happy year. For my happiness must 
depend on them." 

" Alas for you, then, my poor sister !" said the Old Year, 
sighing, as she uplifted her burden. " We grandchildren 


of Time are born to trouble. Happiness, they say, dwells 
in the mansions of eternity, but we can only lead mortals 
thither step by step with reluctant murmurings, and our- 
selves must perish on the threshold. But hark ! my task is 

The clock in the tall steeple of Dr. Emerson's church 
struck twelve ; there was a response from Dr. Flint's, in 
the opposite quarter of the city ; and while the strokes were 
yet dropping into the air the Old Year either flitted or 
faded away, and not the wisdom and might of angels, to 
say nothing of the remorseful yearnings of the millions 
who had used her ill, could have prevailed with that de- 
parted year to return one step. But she, in the company 
of Time and all her kindred, must hereafter hold a reckon- 
ing with mankind. So shall it be, likewise, with the maid- 
enly New Year, who, as the clock ceased to strike, arose 
from the steps of the city-hall and set out rather timorously 
on her earthly course. 

" A happy New Year !" cried a watchman, eying her fig- 
ure very questionably, but without the least suspicion that 
he was addressing the New Year in person. 

" Thank you kindly," said the New Year ; and she gave 
the watchman one of the roses of hope from her basket. 
" May this flower keep a sweet smell long after I have bid- 
den you good-bye!" 

Then she stepped on more briskly through the silent 
streets, and such as were awake at the moment heard her 
footfall and said, " The New Year is come !" Wherever 
there was a knot of midnight roisterers, they quaffed her 
health. She sighed, however, to perceive that the air was 
tainted — as the atmosphere of this world must continually 
be — with the dying breaths of mortals who had lingered 
just long enough for her to bury them. But there were 
millions left alive to rejoice at her coming, and so she pur- 
sued her way with confidence, strewing emblematic flowers 
on the doorstep of almost every dwelling, which some per- 


sons will gather up and wear in their bosoms, and others 
will trample under foot. The carrier-boy can only say fur- 
ther that early this morning she filled his basket with New 
Year's addresses, assuring him that the whole city, with our 
new mayor and the aldermen and common council at its 
head, would make a general rush to secure copies. Kind 
patrons, will not you redeem the pledge of the New Year ? 


There is snow in yonder cold gray sky of the morning, 
and through the partially-frosted window-panes I love to 
watch the gradual beginning of the storm. A few feathery 
flakes are scattered widely through the air and hover down- 
ward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the 
earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the 
atmosphere. These are not the big flakes heavy with moist- 
ure which melt as they touch the ground and are portent- 
ous of a soaking rain. It is to be in good earnest a wintry 
storm. The two or three people visible on the sidewalks 
have an aspect of endurance, a blue-nosed, frosty fortitude, 
which is evidently assumed in anticipation of a comfortless 
and blustering day. By nightfall — or, at least, before the 
sun sheds another glimmering smile upon us — the street 
and our little garden will be heaped with mountain snow- 
drifts. The soil, already frozen for weeks past, is prepared 
to sustain whatever burden may be laid upon it, and to a 
Northern eye the landscape will lose its melancholy bleak- 
ness and acquire a beauty of its own when Mother Earth, 
like her children, shall have put on the fleecy garb of her 
winter's wear. The cloud-spirits are slowly weaving her 
white mantle. As yet, indeed, there is barely a rime like 
hoar-frost over the brown surface of the street ; the withered 
green of the grass-plat is still discernible, and the slated 
roofs of the houses do but begin to look gray instead of black. 
All the snow that has yet fallen within the circumference 


of my view, were it heaped up together, would hardly equal 
the hillock of a grave. Thus gradually by silent and 
stealthy influences are great changes wrought. These little 
snow-particles which the storm-spirit flings by handfuls 
through the air will bury the great Earth under their ac- 
cumulated mass, nor permit her to behold her sister Sky 
again for dreary months. We likewise shall lose sight of 
our mother's familiar visage, and must content ourselves 
with looking heavenward the oftener. 

Now, leaving the Storm to do his appointed oflnice, let us 
sit down, pen in hand, by our fireside. Gloomy as it may 
seem, there is an influence productive of cheerfulness and 
favorable to imaginative thought in the atmosphere of a 
snowy day. The native of a Southern clime may woo the 
Muse beneath the heavy shade of summer foliage reclining 
on banks of turf, while the sound of singing-birds and war- 
bling rivulets chimes in with the music of his soul. In our 
brief summer I do not think, but only exist in the vague 
enjoyment of a dream. My hour of inspiration — if that 
hour ever comes — is when the green log hisses upon the 
hearth, and the bright flame, brighter for the gloom of the 
chamber, rustles high up the chimney, and the coals drop 
tinkling down among the growing heaps of ashes. When 
the casement rattles in the gust and the snowflakes or the 
sleety raindrops pelt hard against the window-panes, then I 
spread out my sheet of paper with the certainty that 
thoughts and fancies will gleam forth upon it like stars at 
twilight or like violets in May, perhaps to fade as soon. 
However transitory their glow, they at least shine amid the 
darksome shadow which the clouds of the outward sky fling 
through the room. Blessed, therefore, and reverently wel- 
comed by me, her true-born son, be New England's winter, 
which makes us one and all the nurslings of the storm and 
sings a familiar lullaby even in the wildest shriek of the 
December blast. Now look we forth again and see how 
,inuch of his task the storm-spirit has done. 


Slow and sure ! He has the day — perchance the week — 
before him, and may take his own time to accomplish Na- 
ture's burial in snow. A smooth mantle is scarcely yet 
thrown over the withered grass-plat, and the dry stalks of 
annuals still thrust themselves through the white surface in 
all parts of the garden. The leafless rose-bushes stand shiv- 
ering in a shallow snowdrift, looking, poor things ! as dis- 
consolate as if they possessed a human consciousness of the 
dreary scene. This is a sad time for the shrubs that do not 
perish with the summer. They neither live nor die ; what 
they retain of life seems but the chilling sense of death. 
Very sad are the flower-shrubs in midwinter. The roofs of 
the houses are now all white, save where the eddying wind 
has kept them bare at the bleak corners. To discern the 
real intensity of the storm, we must fix upon some distant 
object — as yonder spire — and observe how the riotous gust 
fights with the descending snow throughout the intervening 
space. Sometimes the entire prospect is obscured ; then, 
again, we have a distinct but transient glimpse of the tall 
steeple, like a giant's ghost ; and now the dense wreaths 
, sweep between, as if demons were flinging snowdrifts at each 
other in mid-air. Look next into the street, where we have 
an amusing parallel to the combat of those fancied demons 
in the upper regions. It is a snow-battle of schoolboys. 
What a pretty satire on war and military glory might be 
written in the form of a child's story by describing the 
snow-ball fights of two rival schools, the alternate defeats 
and victories of each, and the final triumph of one party, 
or perhaps of neither ! What pitched battles worthy to be 
chanted in Homeric strains ! What storming of fortresses 
built all of massive snow-blocks ! What feats of individual 
prowess and embodied onsets of martial enthusiasm ! And 
when some well-contested and decisive victory had put a 
period to the war, both armies should unite to build a lofty 
monument of snow upon the battlefield and crown it with 
the victor's statue hewn of the same frozen marble. In a 


few days or weeks thereafter the passer-by would ohsei*ve a 
shapeless mound upon the level common, and, unmindful 
of the famous victory, would ask, " How came it there ? 
Who reared it? And what means it?" The shattered 
pedestal of many a battle-monument has provoked these 
questions when none could answer. 

Turn we again to the fireside and sit musing there, lend- 
ing our ears to the wind till perhaps it shall seem like an 
articulate voice and dictate wild and airy matter for the 
pen. Would it might inspire me to sketch out the personi- 
fication of a New England winter I And that idea, if I can 
seize the snow-wreathed figures that flit before my fancy, 
shall be the theme of the next page. 

How does Winter herald his approach ? By the shrieking 
blast of latter autumn which is Nature's cry of lamentation 
as the destroyer rushes among the shiyering groves where 
she has lingered and scatters the sear leaves upon the tem- 
pest. When that cry is heard, the people wrap themselves 
in cloaks and shake their heads disconsolately, saying, 
" Winter is at hand." Then the axe of the woodcutter echoes 
sharp and diligently in the forest ; then the coal-merchants 
rejoice because each shriek of Nature in her agony adds 
something to the price of coal per ton ; then the peat-smoke 
spreads its aromatic fragrance through the atmosphere. A 
few days more, and at eventide the children look out of the 
window and dimly perceive the flaunting of a snowy man- 
tle in the air. It is stern Winter's vesture. They crowd 
around the hearth and cling to their mother's gown or press 
between their father's knees, - .Trighted by the hollow roar- 
ing voice that bellows adown the wide flue of the chimney. 

It is the voice of Winter ; and when parents and children 
hear it, they shudder and exclaim, " Winter is come. Cold 
Winter has begun his reign already." Now throughout 
New England each hearth becomes an altar sending up the 
smoke of a continued sacrifice to the immitigable deity who 
tyrannizes over forest, country-side and town. Wrapped in 


his white mantle, his staff a hugh icicle, his beard and hair 
a wind-tossed snowdrift, he travels over the land in the 
midst of the northern blast, and woe to the homeless wan- 
derer whom he finds upon his path ! There he lies stark 
and stiff, a human shape of ice, on the spot where Winter 
overtook him. On strides the tyrant over the rushing rivers 
and broad lakes, which turn to rock beneath his footsteps. 
His dreary empire is established ; all around stretches the 
desolation of the pole. Yet not ungrateful be his Xew 
England children (for Winter is our sire, though a stern 
and rough one) — not ungrateful even for the severities 
which have nourished our unyielding strength of character. 
And let us thank him, too, for the sleigh-rides cheered by 
the music of merry bells ; for the crackling and rustling 
hearth when the ruddy firelight gleams on hardy manhood 
and the blooming cheek of woman ; for all the home-en- 
joyments and the kindred virtues which flourish in a frozen 
soil. Not that we grieve when, after some seven months of 
storm and bitter frost. Spring, in the guise of a flower- 
crowned virgin, is seen driving away the hoary despot, pelt- 
ing him with violets by the handftil and strewing green 
grass on the path behind him. Often ere he will give up 
his empire old Winter rushes fiercely back and hurls a snow- 
drift at the shrinking form of Spring, yet step by step he is 
compelled to retreat northward, and spends the summer 
month within the Arctic circle. 

Such fantasies, intermixed among graver toils of mind, 
have made the winter's day pass pleasantly. Meanwhile, 
the storm has raged witho^"'t abatement, and now, as the 
brief afternoon declines, is tossing denser volumes to and 
fro about the atmosphere. On the window-sill there is a 
layer of snow reaching halfway up the lowest pane of glass. 
The garden is one unbroken bed. Along the street are two 
or three spots of uncovered earth where the gust has 
whirled away the snow, heaping it elsewhere to the fence- 
tops or piling huge banks against the doors of houses. A 


solitary passenger is seen, now striding mid-leg deery across 
a drift, now scudding over the bare ground, while his cloak 
is swollen with the wind. And now the jingling of bells — a 
sluggish sound responsive to the horse's toilsome progress 
through the unbroken drifts — announces the passage of a 
sleigh with a boy clinging behind and ducking his head to 
escape detection by the driver. Next comes a sledge laden 
with wood for some unthrifty housekeeper whom winter has 
surprised at a cold hearth. But what dismal equipage now 
struggles along the uneven street ? A sable hearse bestrewn 
with snow is bearing a dead man through the storm to his 
frozen bed. Oh how dreary is a burial in winter, when 
the bosom of Mother Earth has no warmth for her poor 

Evening — the early eve of December — begins to spread 
its deepening veil over the comfortless scene. The firelight 
gradually brightens and throws my flickering shadow upon 
the walls and ceiling of the chamber, but still the storm 
rages and rattles agairist the windows. Alas ! I shiver and 
think it time to be disconsolate, but, taking a farewell glance 
at dead Nature in her shroud, I perceive a flock of snow- 
birds skimming lightsomely through the tempest and flitting 
from drift to drift as sportively as swallows in the delightful 
prime of summer. Whence come they? Where do they 
build their nests and seek their food ? Why, having airy 
wings, do they not follow summer around the earth, instead 
of making themselves the playmates of the storm and flut- 
tering on the dreary verge of the winter's eve ? I know not 
whence they come, nor why ; yet my spirit has been cheered 
by that wandering flock of snow-birds. 


Rambling on foot in the spring of my life and th© 
summer of the year, I came one afternoon to a point 
which gave me the choice of three directions. Straight be- 
fore me the main road extended its dusty length to Boston ; 
on the left a branch went toward the sea, and would have 
lengthened my journey a trifle of twenty or thirty miles, 
while by the right-hand path I might have gone over hills 
and lakes to Canada, visiting in my way the celebrated 
town of Stamford. On a level spot of grass at the foot of 
the guide-post appeared an object which, though locomotive 
on a different principle, reminded me of Gulliver's portable 
mansion among the Brobdignags. It was a huge covered 
wagon — or, more properly, a small house on wheels — with 
a door on one side and a window shaded by green blinds 
on the other. Two horses munching provender out of the 
baskets which muzzled them were fastened near the vehi- 
cle. A delectable sound of music proceeded from the in- 
terior, and I immediately conjectured that this was some 
itinerant show halting at the confluence of the roads to in- 
tercept such idle travellers as myself. A shower had long 
been climbing up the western sky, and now hung so blackly 
over my onward path that it was a point of wisdom to seek 
shelter here. 

" Halloo ! "Who stands guard here ? Is the doorkeeper 
asleep ?" cried I, approaching a ladder of two or three steps 
which was let down from the wagon. 

The music ceased at my summons, and there appeared at 



the door, not the sort of figure that I had mentally as- 
signed to the wandering showman, but a most respectable 
old personage whom I w^as sorry to have addressed in so 
free a style. He "wore a snuff-colored coat and small- 
clothes, with white top-boots, and exhibited the mild dig- 
nity of aspect and manner which may often be noticed in 
aged schoolmasters, and sometimes in deacons, selectmen or 
other potentates of that kind. A small piece of silver was 
my passport within his premises, w^here I found only one 
other person, hereafter to be described. 

" This is a dull day for business," said the old gentleman 
as he ushered me in ; " but I merely tarry here to refresh 
the cattle, being bound for the camp-meeting at Stamford." 

Perhaps the movable scene of this narrative is still pere- 
grinating New England, and may enable the reader to test 
the accuracy of my description. The spectacle — for I will 
not use the unworthy term of " j^uppet-show " — consisted 
of a multitude of little people assembled on a miniature 
stage. Among them were artisans of every kind in the at- 
titudes of their toil, and a group of fair ladies and gay 
gentlemen standing ready for the dance; a company of 
foot-soldiers formed a line across the stage, looking stern, 
grim and terrible enough to make it a pleasant considera- 
tion that they were but three inches high ; and conspicuous 
above the w^hole Avas seen a ^lerry Andrew in the pointed 
cap and motley coat of his profession. All the inhabitants 
of this mimic world were motionless, like the figures in a 
picture, or like that people w^ho one moment were alive in 
the midst of their business and delights and the next were 
transformed to statues, preserving an eternal semblance of 
labor that was ended and pleasure that could be felt no 
more. Anon, however, the old gentleman turned the 
handle of a barrel-organ, the first note of which produced 
a most enlivening effect upon the figures and awoke them 
all to their proper occupations and amusements. By the 
eelfsame impulse the tailor plied his needle, the blacksmith's 


hammer descended upon the anvil and the dancers whirled 
away on feathery tiptoes ; the company of soldiers broke 
into platoons, retreated from the stage, and were succeeded 
by a troop of horse, who came prancing onward with such 
a sound of trumpets and tramplmg of hoofs as might have 
startled Don Quixote himself; while an old toper of in- 
veterate ill-habits uplifted his black bottle and took off a 
hearty swig. Meantime, the Merry Andrew began to 
caper and turn somersets, shaking his sides, nodding his 
head and winking his eyes in as lifelike a manner as if he 
were ridiculing the nonsense of all human affairs and 
making: fun of the whole multitude beneath him. At 
length the old magician (for I compared the showman to 
Prospero entertaining his guests with a masque of shadows) 
paused that I might give utterance to my wonder. 

" What an admirable piece of work is this !" exclaimed 
I, lifting up my hands in astonishment. 

Indeed, I liked the spectacle and was tickled with the 
old man's gravity as he presided at it, for I had none of 
that foolish wisdom which reproves every occupation that 
is not useful in this world of vanities. If there be a faculty 
which I possess more perfectly than most men, it is that of 
throwing myself mentally into situations foreign to my 
own and detecting with a cheerful eye the desirable circum- 
stances of each. I could have envied the life of this gray- 
headed showman, spent as it had been in a course of safe 
and pleasurable adventure in driving his huge vehicle some- 
times through the sands of Cape Cod and sometimes over 
the rough forest-roads of the north and east, and halting 
now on the green before a village meeting-house and now 
in a paved square of the metropolis. How often must his 
heart have been gladdened by the delight of children as 
they viewed these animated figures, or his pride indulged 
by haranguing learnedly to grown men on the mechanical 
powers which produced such wonderful effects, or his gal- 
lantry brought into play — for this is an attribute which 


such grave men do not lack — by the visits of pretty maid- 
ens ! And then with how fresh a feeling must he return 
at intervals to his own peculiar home ! "I would I were 
assured of as happy a life as his," thought I. 

Though the showman's wagon might have accommodated 
fifteen or twenty spectators, it nov/ contained only himself 
and me and a third person, at whom I threw a glance on 
entering. He was a neat and trim young man of two or 
three and twenty ; his drab hat and green frock-coat with 
velvet collar were smart, though no longer new, while a 
pair of green spectacles that seemed needless to his brisk 
little eyes gave him something of a scholar-like and literary 
air. After allowing me a sufficient time to inspect the pup- 
pets, he advanced with a bow and drew my attention to 
some books in a corner of the wagon. These he forthwith 
began to extol with an amazing volubility of well-sounding 
words and an ingenuity of praise that won him my heart 
as being myself one of the most merciful of critics. In- 
deed, his stock required some considerable powers of com- 
mendation in the salesman. There were several ancient 
friends of mine — the novels of those happy days when my 
affections wavered between the Scottish Chiefs and Thomas 
Thumb — besides a few of later date whose merits had not 
been acknowledged by the public. I was glad to find that 
dear little venerable volume the Neiv England Primer, look- 
ing as antique as ever, though in its thousandth new edi- 
tion ; a bundle of superannuated gilt picture-books made 
such a child of me that, partly for the glittering covers and 
partly for the fairy-tales within, I bought the whoJe, and an 
assortment of ballads and popular theatrical songs drew 
largely on my purse. To balance these expenditures, I 
meddled neither with sermons nor science nor morality, 
though volumes of each w^ere there, nor with a lAfe of 
Franklin in the coarsest of paper, but so showily bound 
that it was emblematical of the doctor himself in the court- 
dress which he refused to wear at Paris, nor with Webster's 


spelling-book, nor some of Byron's minor poems, nor half a 
dozen little Testaments at twenty-five cents each. Thus far 
the collection might have been swept from some great book- 
store or picked up at an evening auction-room, but there 
was one small blue-covered pamphlet which the pedler 
handed me with so peculiar an air that I purchased it im- 
mediately at his own price ; and then for the firat time the 
thought struck me that I had spoken face to face with the 
veritable author of a printed book. 

The literary-man now evinced a great kindness for me, 
and I ventured to inquire which way he was travelling. 

" Oh," said he, " I keep company with this old gentlemen 
here, and we are moving now toward the camp-meeting at 

He then explained to me that for the present season he 
had rented a corner of the wagon as a book-store, which, 
as he wittily observed, was a true circulating library, since 
there were few parts of the country where it had not gone 
its rounds. I approved of the plan exceedingly, and began 
to sum up within my mind the many uncommon felicities 
in the life of a book-pedler, especially when his character 
resembled that of the individual before me. At a high rate 
was to be reckoned the daily and hourly enjoyment of such 
interviews as the present, in which he seized upon the ad- 
miration of a passing stranger and made him aware that 
a man of literary taste, and even of literary achievement, 
was travelling the country in a showman's wagon. A more 
valuable yet not infrequent triumph might be won in his 
conversations with some elderly clergyman long vegetating 
in a rocky, w'oody, watery back-settlement of New England, 
who as he recruited his library from the pedler's stock of 
sermons would exhort him to seek a college education and 
become the first scholar in his class. Sweeter and prouder 
yet would be his sensations when, talking poetry while he 
sold spelling-books, he should charm the mind, and haplj? 


touch the heart, of a fair country schoolmistress, herself an 
unhonored poetess, a wearer of blue stockings which none 
but himself took pains to look at. But the scene of his 
completest glory would be when the wagon had halted for 
the night and his stock of books was transferred to some 
crowded bar-room. Then w^ould he recommend to the mul- 
tifarious company, w^hether traveller from the city, or team- 
ster from the hills, or neighboring squire, or the landlord 
himself, or his loutish hostler, works suited to each particu- 
lar taste and capacity, proving, all the while, by acute crit- 
icism and profound remark, that the lore in his books was 
even exceeded by that in his brain. Thus happily w^ould 
he traverse the land, sometimes a herald before the march 
of Mind, sometimes walking arm in arm with awful Litera- 
ture, and reaping everywhere a harvest of real and sensible 
popularity which the secluded bookworms by whose toil he 
lived could never hope for. 

" If ever I meddle with literature," thought I, fixing my- 
self in adamantine resolution, " it shall be as a travellint^ 

Though it was still mid-afternoon, the air had now grown 
dark about us, and a few drops of rain came down upon 
the roof of our vehicle, pattering like the feet of birds that 
had flown thither to rest. A sound of pleasant voices made 
us listen, and there soon appeared halfway up the ladder 
the pretty person of a young damsel whose rosy face was so 
cheerful that even amid the gloomy light it seemed as if the 
sunbeams were peeping under her bonnet. We next saw 
the dark and handsome features of a young man who, with 
easier gallantry than might have been expected in the heart 
of Yankee-land, was assisting her into the wagon. It be- 
came immediately evident to us, when the two strangers 
stood within the door, that they were of a profession kin- 
dred to those of my companions, and I was delighted with 
the more than hospitable — the even paternal — kindness of 
the old showman's manner as he welcomed them, while the 


man of literature hastened to lead the merry-eyed girl to a 
seat on the long bench. 

" You are housed but just in time, my young friends," 
said the master of the wagon ; " the sky would have been 
down upon you within five minutes." 

The young man's reply marked him as a foreigner — not 
by any variation from the idiom and accent of good Eng- 
lish, but because he spoke with more caution and accuracy 
than if perfectly familiar with the language. 

" We knew that a shower was hanging over us," said he, 
" and consulted whether it were best to enter the house on 
the top of yonder hill, but, seeing your wagon in the 

" We agreed to come hither," interrupted the girl, with a 
smile, " because we should be more at home in a wandering 
house like this." 

I, meanwhile, with many a wild and undetermined fan- 
tasy was narrowly inspecting these two doves that had flown 
into our ark. The young man, tall, agile and athletic, wore 
a mass of black shining curls clustering round a dark and 
vivacious countenance which, if it had not greater expres- 
sion, was at least more active and attracted readier notice, 
than the quiet faces of our countrymen. At his first ap- 
pearance he had been laden with a neat mahogany box of 
about two feet square, but very light in proportion to its 
size, which he had immediately unstrapped from his shoul- 
ders and deposited on the floor of the wagon. 

The girl had nearly as fair a complexion as our own 
beauties, and a brighter one than most of them ; the light- 
ness of her figure, which seemed calculated to traverse the 
whole world without weariness, suited well with the glow- 
ing cheerfuLuess of her face, and her gay attire, combining 
the rainbow hues of crimson, green and a deep orange, was 
as proper to her lightsome aspect as if she had been born 
in it. This gay stranger was appropriately burdened with 
that mii'th-inspiring instrument the fiddle, which her com- 


panion took from her hands, and shortly began the process 
of tuning. Neither of us the previous company of the 
wagon needed to inquire their trade, for this could be no 
mystery to frequenters of brigade-musters, ordinations, cat- 
tle-shows, commencements, and other festal meetings in our 
sober land ; and there is a dear friend of mine who will 
smile when this page recalls to his memory a chivalrous 
deed performed by us in rescuing the show-box of such a 
couple from a mob of great double-fisted countrymen. 

" Come," said I to the damsel of gay attire ; " shall we 
visit all the wonders of the world together ?" 

She understood the metaphor at once, though, indeed, it 
would not much have troubled me if she had assented to 
the literal meaning of my words. The mahogany box was 
placed in a proper position, and I peeped in through its 
small round magnify ing-window while the girl sat by my 
side and gave shoil descriptive shetches as one after another 
the pictures were unfolded to my view. We visited together 
— at least, our imaginations did — full many a famous city 
in the streets of which I had long yearned to tread. Once, 
I remember, we were in the harbor of Barcelona, gazing 
townward; next, she bore me through the air to Sicily 
and bade me look up at blazing jEtna ; then we took wing 
to Venice and sat in a gondola beneath the arch of the 
Rialto, and anon she set me down among the thronged spec- 
tators at the coronation of Napoleon. But there was one 
scene — its locality she could not tell — which charmed my 
attention longer than all those gorgeous palaces and churches, 
because the fancy haunted me that I myself the preceding 
summer had beheld just such a humble meeting-house, in 
just such a pine-surrounded nook, among our own green 
mountains. All these pictures were tolerably executed, 
though far inferior to the girl's touches of description ; nor 
was it easy to comprehend how in so few sentences, and 
these, as I supposed, in a language foreign to her, she con- 
trived to present an airy copy of each varied scene. 


When we had travelled through the vast extent of the 
mahogany box, I looked into my guide's face. 

" ' Where are you going, my pretty maid ?' " inquired I, in 
the words of an old song. 

"Ah !" said the gay damsel ; " you might as well ask where 
the summer wind is going. We are wanderers here and 
there and everywhere. Wherever there is mirth our merry 
hearts are drawn to it. To-day, indeed, the people have 
told us of a great frolic and festival in these parts ; so per- 
haps we may be needed at what you call the camp-meeting 
at Stamford." 

Then, in my happy youth, and while her pleasant voice 
yet sounded in my ears, I sighed ; for none but myself, I 
thought, should have been her companion in a life which 
seemed to realize my own wild fancies cherished all through 
visionary boyhood to that hour. To these two strangers the 
world was in its Golden Age — not that, indeed, it was less 
dark and sad than ever, but because its weariness and sorrow 
had no community with their ethereal nature. Wherever 
they might appear in their pilgrimage of bliss. Youth would 
echo back their gladness, care-stricken Maturity would rest 
a moment from its toil, and Age, tottering among the graves, 
would smile in withered joy for their sakes. The lonely 
cot, the narrow and gloomy street, the sombre shade, would 
catch a passing gleam like that now shining on ourselves as 
these bright spirits wandered by. Blessed pair, whose 
happy home was throughout all the earth ! I looked at my 
shoulders, and thought them broad enough to sustain those 
pictured towns and mountains; mine, too, was an elastic 
foot as tireless as the wing of the bird of Paradise ; mine 
was then an untroubled heart that would have gone singing 
on its delightful way. 

" Oh, maiden," said I aloud, " why did you not come 
hither alone?" 

While the merry girl and myself were busy with the 
show-box the unceasing rain had driven another wayfarer 


into the wagon. He seemed pretty nearly of the old show- 
man's age, but much smaller, leaner and more withered 
than he, and less respectably clad in a patched suit of gray ; 
withal, he had a thin, shrewd countenance and a pair of 
diminutive gray eyes, which peeped rather too keenly out 
of their puckered sockets. This old fellow had been joking 
with the showman in a manner which intimated previous 
acquaintance, but, perceiving that the damsel and I had 
terminated our affairs, he drew forth a folded document and 
presented it to me. As I had anticipated, it proved to be 
a circular, written in a very fair and legible hand and 
signed by several distinguished gentlemen whom I had 
never heard of, stating that the bearer had encountered 
every variety of misfortune and recommending him to the 
notice of all charitable people. Previous disbursements 
had left me no more than a five-dollar bill, out of which, 
however, I offered to make the beggar a donation provided 
he w^ould give me change for it. The object of my benef- 
icence looked keenly in my face, and discerned that I had 
none of that abominable spirit, characteristic though it be, 
of a full-blooded Yankee, which takes pleasure in detecting 
every little harmless piece of knavery. 

" Why, perhaps," said the ragged old mendicant, " if the 
bank is in good standing, I can't say but I may have enough 
about me to change your bill." 

"It is a bill of the Suffolk Bank," said I, "and better 
than the specie." 

As the beggar had nothing to object, he now produced a 
small buff leather bag tied up carefully with a shoe-string. 
When this w^as opened, there appeared a very comfortable 
treasure of silver coins of all sorts and sizes, and I even 
fancied that I saw gleaming among them the golden plum- 
age of that rare bird in our currency the American eagle. 
In this precious heap was my bank-note deposited, the rate 
of exchange being considerably against me. 

His wants being thus relieved, the destitute man pulled 


out of his pocket an old pack of greasy cards which had 
probably contributed to fill the buff leather bag in more 
ways than one. 

"Come!" said he; "I spy a rare fortune in your face, and 
for twenty-five cents more I'll tell you what it is." 

I never refuse to take a glimpse into futurity ; so, after 
shufiling the cards and when the fair damsel had cut them, I 
dealt a portion to the prophetic beggar. Like others of his 
profession, before predicting the shadowy events that were 
moving on to meet me he gave proof of his preternatural 
science by describing scenes through which I had already 

Here let me have credit for a sober fact. When the old 
man had read a page in his book of fate, he bent his keen 
gray eyes on mine and proceeded to relate in all its minute 
particulars what was then the most singular event of my 
life. It was one which I had no purpose to disclose till the 
general unfolding of all secrets, nor would it be a much 
stranger instance of inscrutable knowledge or fortunate 
conjecture if the beggar were to meet me in the street to- 
day and repeat word for word the page which I have here 

The fortune-teller, after predicting a destiny which time 
seems loth to make good, put up his cards, secreted his 
treasure-bag and began to converse with the other occu- 
pants of the wagon. 

" Well, old friend," said the showman, " you have not 
yet told us which way your face is turned this after- 

" I am taking a trip northward this warm weather," re- 
plied the conjurer, " across the Connecticut first, and then 
up through Vermont, and maybe into Canada before the 
fall. But I must stop and see the breaking up of the camp- 
meeting at Stamford." 

I began to think that all the vagrants in New England 


were converging to the camp-meeting and had made this 
wagon their rendezvous by the way. 

The showman now proposed that when the shower -was 
over they should pursue the road to Stamford together, it 
being sometimes the policy of these people to form a sort of 
league and confederacy. 

" And the young lady too," observed the gallant bibliop- 
olist, bowing to her profoundly, " and this foreign gentle- 
man, as I understand, are on a jaunt of pleasure to the 
same spot. It would add incalculably to my ow^n enjoy- 
ment, and I presume to that of my colleague and his friend, 
if they could be prevailed upon to join our party." 

This arrangement met wdth approbation on all hands, nor 
were any of those concerned more sensible of its advantages 
than myself, w^ho had no title to be included in it. 

Having already satisfied myself as to the several modes 
in which the four others attained felicity, I next set my 
mind at work to discover what enjoyments were peculiar to 
the old " straggler," as the people of the country would have 
termed the wandering mendicant and prophet. As he pre- 
tended to familiarity with the devil, so I fancied that he 
was fitted to pursue and take delight in his way of life by 
possessing some of the mental and moral characteristics — 
the lighter and more comic ones — of the devil in popular 
stories. Among them might be reckoned a love of decep- 
tion for its own sake, a shrev\'d eye and keen relish for hu- 
man weakness and ridiculous infirmity, and the talent of 
petty fraud. Thus to this old man there would be pleasure 
even in the consciousness — so insupportable to some minds 
— that his whole life was a cheat upon the world, and that, 
so far as he was concerned with the public, his little cun- 
ning had the upper hand of its united wisdom. Every day 
would furnish him with a succession of minute and pungent 
triumphs — as when, for instance, his importunity wrung a 
pittance out of the heart of a miser, or when my silly good- 
nature transferred a part of my slender purse to his plump 


leather bag, or when some ostentatious gentleman should 
throw a coin to the ragged beggar who was richer than him- 
self, or when — though he v/ould not always be so decidedly 
diabolical — his pretended wants should make him a sharer in 
the scanty living of real indigence. And then what an in- 
exhaustible field of enjoyment, both as enabling him to dis- 
cern so much folly and achieve such quantities of minor 
mischief, was opened to his sneering spirit by his pretensions 
to prophetic knowledge. 

All this was a sort of happiness which I could conceive 
of, though I had little sympathy with it. Perhaps, had I 
been then inclined to admit it, I might have found that the 
roving life was more proper to him than to either of his 
companions ; for Satan, to whom I had compared the poor 
man, has delighted, ever since the time of Job, in " wander- 
ing up and down upon the earth," and, indeed, a crafty dis- 
position which operates not in deep-laid plans, but in dis- 
connected tricks, could not have an adequate scope, unless 
naturally impelled to a continual change of scene and soci- 

My reflections were here interrupted. 

" Another visitor !" exclaimed the old showman. 

The door of the wagon had been closed against the 
temj^est, which was roaring and blustering with prodigious 
fury and commotion and beating violently against our shel- 
ter, as if it claimed all those homeless people for its lawful 
prey, while we, caring little for the displeasure of the ele- 
ments, sat comfortably talking. There was now an attempt 
to open the door, succeeded by a voice uttering some 
strange, unintelligible gibberish which my companions mis- 
took fo¥ Greek and I suspected to be thieves' Latin. How- 
ever, the showman stepped forward and gave admittance to 
a figure which made me imagine either that our wagon had 
rolled back two hundred years into past ages or that the 
forest and its old inhabitants had sprung up around us by 
enchantment. It was a red Indian armed with his bow 


and arrow. His dress was a sort of cap adorned with a 
single feather of some wild bird, and a frock of blue cot- 
ton girded tight about him ; on his breast, like orders of 
knighthood, hung a crescent and a circle and other orna- 
ments of silver, while a small crucifix betokened that our 
father the pope had interposed between the Indian and the 
Great Spirit whom he had worshipped in his simplicity. 
This son of the wilderness and pilgrim of the storm took 
his place silently in the midst of us. When the first sur- 
prise was over, I rightly conjectured him to be one of the 
Penobscot tribe, parties of which I had often seen in their 
summer excursions down our Eastern rivers. There they 
paddle their birch canoes among the coasting-schooners, 
and build their wigwam beside some roaring mill-dam, and 
drive a little trade in basket-work where their fathers 
hunted deer. Our new visitor was probably wandering 
through the country toward Boston, subsisting on the care- 
less charity of the people while he turned his archery to 
profitable account by shooting at cents which were to be 
the prize of his successful aim. • 

The Indian had not long been seated ere our merry dam- 
sel sought to draw him into conversation. She, indeed, 
seemed all made up of sunshine in the month of ]May, for 
there was nothing so dark and dismal that her pleasant 
mind could not cast a glow over it; and the wild man, 
like a fir tree in his native forest, soon began to brighten 
into a sort of sombre cheerfulness. At length she inquired 
whether his journey had any particular end or purpose. 

" I go shoot at the camp-meeting at Stamford," replied 
the Indian. 

"And here are five more," said the girl, " all aiming at 
the camp-meeting too. You shall be one of us, for we 
travel with light hearts; and, as for me, I sing merry 
songs and tell merry tales and am ful] of merry thoughts, 
and I dance merrily along the road, so that there is never 
any sadness among them that keep me company. But oh. 


you would find it yery dull indeed to go all the way to 
Stamford alone." 

My ideas of the aboriginal character led me to fear that 
the Indian would prefer his own solitary musings to the gay 
society thus offered him; on the contrary, the girl's pro- 
posal met with immediate acceptance and seemed to ani- 
mate him with a misty expectation of enjoyment. 

I now gave myself up to a course of thought which, 
whether it flowed naturally from this combination of events 
or was drawn forth by a wayward fancy, caused my mind 
to thrill as if I were listening to deep music. I saw man- 
kind in this weary old age of the world either enduring a 
sluggish existence amid the smoke and dust of cities, or, if 
they breathed a purer air, still lying down at night with 
no hope but to wear out to-morrow, and all the to-morrows 
which make up life, among the same dull scenes and in the 
same wretched toil that had darkened the sunshine of to- 
day. But there were some full of the primeval instinct 
who preserved the freshness of youth to their latest years 
by the continual excitement of new objects, new pursuits 
and new associates, and cared little, though their birth- 
place might have been here in New England, if the grave 
should close over them in Central Asia. Fate was sum- 
moning a parliament of these free spirits ; unconscious of 
the impulse which directed them to a common centre, they 
had come hither from far and near, and last of all appeared 
the representatives of those mighty vagrants who had 
chased the deer during thousands of years, and were chas- 
ing it now in the spirit-land. Wandering down through 
the waste of ages, the woods had vanished around his path ; 
his arm had lost somewhat of its strength, his foot of its 
fleetness, his mien of its wild regality, his heart and mind 
of their savage virtue and uncultured force, but here, un- 
tamable to the routine of artificial life, roving now along 
the dusty road as of old over the forest-leaves, — here was 
the Indian still. 


" "Well," said the eld showman, in the midst of my medi- 
tations, " here is an honest company of us — one, two, three, 
four, five, six — all going to the camp-meeting at Stamford. 
Now, hoping no offence, I should like to know where this 
young gentleman may be going ?" 

I started. Hov/ came I among these wanderers ? The 
free mind that preferred its own folly to another's wisdom, 
the open spirit that found companions everywhere — above 
all, the restless impulse that had so often made me wretched 
in the midst of enjoyments,— these were my claims to be of 
their society. 

" My friends," cried I, stepping into the centre of the 
wagon, " I am going with you to the camp-meeting at Stam- 

" But in what capacity ?" asked the old showman, after 
a moment's silence. "All of us here can get our bread in 
some creditable way. Every honest man should have his 
livelihood. You, sir, as I take it, are a mere strolling gen- 

I proceeded to inform the company that v/hen Nature 
gave me a propensity to their way of life she had not left 
me altogether destitute of qualifications for it, though I 
could not deny that my talent was less respectable, and 
might be less profitable, than the meanest of theirs. My 
design, in short, was to imitate the story-tellers of whom 
Oriental travellers have told us, and become an itinerant 
novelist, reciting my own extemporaneous fictions to such 
audiences as I could collect. 

"' Either this," said I, " is my vocation, or I have been born 
in vain." 

The fortune-teller, with a sly wink to the company, pro- 
posed to take me as an apprentice to one or other of his 
professions, either of which undoubtedly would have given 
full scope to whatever inventive talent I might possess. 
The bibliopolist spoke a few words in opposition to my plan 
— influenced partly, I suspect, by the jealousy of author- 


ship, and partly by an apprehension that the viva-voce prac- 
tice would become general among novelists, to the infinite 
detriment of the book trade. 

Dreading a rejection, I solicited the interest of the merry 

" ' Mirth,' " cried I, most aptly appropriating the words of 
L' Allegro, " ' to thee I sue ! Mirth, admit me of thy crew" !' " 

" Let us indulge the poor youth," said Mirth, with a 
kindness which made me love her dearly, though I was no 
such coxcomb as to misinterpret her motives. " I have es- 
pied much promise in him. True, a shadow sometimes flits 
across his brow, but the sunshine is sure to follow in a mo- 
ment. He is never guilty of a sad thought but a merry 
one is twin-born with it. We will take him with us, and 
you shall see that he will set us all a-laughing before we 
reach the camp-meeting at Stamford." Her voice silenced 
the scruples of the rest and gained me admittance into the 
league ; according to the terms of which, without a com- 
munity of goods or profits, we were to lend each other all 
the aid and avert all the harm that might be in our power. 

This affair settled, a marvellous jollity entered into the 
"whole tribe of us, manifesting itself characteristically in 
each individual. The old showman, sitting down to his 
barrel-organ, stirred up the souls of the pigmy people with 
one of the quickest tunes in the music-book ; tailors, black- 
smiths, gentlemen and ladies all seemed to share in the 
spirit of the occasion, and the Merry Andrew played his 
part more facetiously than ever, nodding and winking par- 
ticularly at me. The young foreigner flourished his fiddle- 
bow with a master's hand, and gave an inspiring echo to 
the showman's melody. The bookish man and the merry 
damsel started up simultaneously to dance, the former 
enacting the double shuffle in a style which everybody must 
have witnessed ere election week was blotted out of time, 
while the girl, setting her arms akimbo with both hands at 
her slim waist, displayed such light rapidity of foot and 


harmony of varying attitude and motion that I could not 
conceive how she ever was to stop, imagining at the moment 
that Nature had made her, as the old showman had made 
his puppets, for no earthly purpose but to dance jigs. The 
Indian bellowed forth a succession of most hideous outcries, 
somewhat affrighting us till we interpreted them as the war- 
song with which, in imitation of his ancestors, he was pref- 
acing the assault on Stamford. The conjurer, meanwhile, 
sat demurely in a corner extracting a sly enjoyment from 
the whole scene, and, like the facetious Merry Andrew, di- 
recting his queer glance particularly at me. As for myself, 
with great exhilaration of fancy, I began to arrange and 
color the incidents of a tale wherewith I proposed to amuse 
an audience that very evening ; for I saw that my associ- 
ates were a little ashamed of me, and that no time was to 
be lost in obtaining a public acknowledgment of my abil- 

"Come, fellow-laborers," at last said the old showman, 
whom we had elected president ; " the shower is over, and 
we must be doing our duty by these poor souls at Stam- 

" We'll come among them in procession, with music and 
dancing," cried the merry damsel. 

Accordingly — for it must be understood that our pilgrim- 
age was to be performed on foot — we sallied joyously out 
of the wagon, each of us, even the old gentleman in his 
white top-boots, giving a great skip as we came down the 
ladder. Above our heads there was such a glory of sun- 
shine and splendor of clouds, and such brightness of verd- 
ure below, that, as I modestly remarked at the time, Nature 
seemed to have washed her face and put on the best of her 
jewelry and a fresh green gown in honor of our confedera- 
tion. Casting our eyes northward, we beheld a horseman 
approaching leisurely and splashing through the little pud- 
dle on the Stamford road. Onward he came, sticking up in 
his saddle with rigid perpendicularity, a tall, thin figure in 


rusty black, whom the showman and the conjurer shortly rec- 
ognized to be what his aspect sufficiently indicated — a trav- 
•elling preacher of great fame among the Methodists. What 
puzzled us was the fact that his face appeared turned from, 
instead of to, the camp-meeting at Stamford. However, as 
this new votary of the wandering life drew near the little 
green space where the guide-post and our wagon were situ- 
ated, my six fellow-vagabonds and myself rushed forward 
and surrounded him, crying out with united voices, 

"What news? What news from the camp-meeting at 

The missionary looked down in surprise at as singular 
a knot of people as could have been selected from all his 
heterogeneous auditors. Indeed, considering that we might 
all be classified under the general head of Vagabond, there 
was great diversity of character among the grave old show- 
man, the sly, prophetic beggar, the fiddling foreigner and 
his merry damsel, the smart bibliopolist, the sombre Indian 
and myself, the itinerant novelist, a slender youth of 
eighteen. I even fancied that a smile was endeavoring to 
disturb the iron gravity of the preacher's mouth. 

" Good people," answered he, " the camp-meeting is broke 

So saying, the Methodist minister switched his steed and 
rode westward. Our union being thus nullified by the re- 
moval of its object, we were sundered at once to the four 
winds of heaven. The fortune-teller, giving a nod to all 
and a peculiar wink to me, departed on Jiis Northern tour, 
chuckling within himself as he took the Stamford road. 
The old showman and his literary coadjutor were already 
tackling their horses to the wagon v/ith a design to peregri- 
nate south-west along the sea-coast. The foreigner and the 
merry damsel took their laughing leave and pursued the 
eastern road, which I had that day trodden ; as they passed 
away the young man played a lively strain and the girTs 
happy spirit broke into a dance, and, thus dissolving, as it 


were, into sunbeams and gay music, that pleasant pair de- 
parted from my view. Finally, with a pensive shadow 
thrown across my mind, yet emulous of the light philosophy 
of my late companions, I joined myself to the Penobscot 
Indian and set forth toward the distant city. 



The moonbeams came through two deep and narrow win- 
dows and showed a spacious chamber richly furnished in an 
antique fashion. From one lattice the shadow of the dia- 
mond panes was thrown upon the floor ; the ghostly light 
through the other slept upon a bed, falling between the 
heavy silken curtains and illuminating the face of a young 
man. But how quietly the slumberer lay ! how pale his 
features ! And how like a shroud the sheet was wound about 
his frame! Yes, it was a corpse in its burial-clothes. 

Suddenly the fixed features seemed to move with dark 
emotion. Strange fantasy ! It was but the shadow of the 
fringed curtain waving betwixt the dead face and the moon- 
light as the door of the chamber opened and a girl stole 
softly to the bedside. Was there delusion in the moonbeams, 
or did her gesture and her eye betray a gleam of triumph 
as she bent over the pale corpse, pale as itself, and pressed 
her living lips to the cold ones of the dead ? As she drew 
back from that long kiss her features writhed as if a proud 
heart were fighting with its anguish. Again it seemed that 
the features of the corpse had moved responsive to her own. 
Still an illusion. The silken curtains had waved a second 
time betwixt the dead face ana the moonlight as another 
fair young girl unclosed the door and glided ghostlike to 
the bedside. There the two maidens stood, both beautiful, 
with the pale beauty of the dead between them. But she 
who had first entered was proud and stately, and the other 
a soft and fragile thing. 



" Away !" cried the lofty one. " Thou hadst him living ; 
the dead is mine." 

" Thine !" returned the other, shuddering. " Well hast 
thou spoken ; the dead is thine." 

The proud girl started and stared into her face with a 
ghastly look, but a wild and mournful expression passed 
across the features of the gentle one, and, weak and helpless, 
she sank down on the bed, her head pillowed beside that of 
the corpse and her hair mingling with his dark locks. A 
creature of hope and joy, the first draught of sorrow had 
bewildered her. 

'' Edith!" cried her rival. 

Edith groaned as with a sudden compression of the heart, 
and, removing her cheek from the dead youth's pillow, she 
stood upright, fearfully encountering the eyes of the lofty 

" Wilt thou betray me ?" said the latter, calmly. 

" Till the dead bid me speak I will be silent," answered 
Edith. " Leave us alone tosrether. Go and live manv vears, 
and then return and tell me of thy life. He too will be 
here. Then, if thou tellest of sufierings more than death, 
we will both forgive thee." 

"And what shall be the token ?" asked the proud girl, as 
if her heart acknowledged a meaning in these wild words. 

" This lock of hair," said Edith, lifting one of the dark 
clustering curls that lay heavily on the dead man's brow. 

The two maidens joined their hands over the bosom of 
the corpse and appointed a day and hour far, far in time to 
come for their next meeting in that chamber. The statelier 
girl gave one deep look at the motionless countenance and 
departed, yet turned again and trembled ere she closed the 
door, almost believing that her dead lover frowned upon 
her. And Edith, too ! Was not her white form fading into 
the moonlight? Scorning her own weakness, she went forth 
and perceived that a negro slave was waiting in the passage 
with a waxlight, which he held between her face and his 


own and regarded her, as slie thought, with an ugly expres- 
sion of merriment. Lifting his torch on high, the slave 
lighted her down the staircase and undid the portal of the 
mansion. The young clergyman of the town had just as- 
cended the steps, and, bowing to the lady, passed in with- 
out a word. 

Years — many years — rolled on. The world seemed new 
again, so much older was it grown since the night when 
those pale girls had clasped their hands across the bosom 
of the corpse. In the interval a lonely woman had passed 
from youth to extreme age, and was known by all the town 
as the " Old Maid in the Winding-Sheet." A taint of in- 
sanity had affected her whole life, but so quiet, sad and 
gentle, so utterly free from violence, that she was suffered 
to pursue her harmless fantasies unmolested by the world 
with whose business or pleasures she had naught to do. She 
dwelt alone, and never came into the daylight except to 
follow funerals. Whenever a corpse was borne along the 
street, in sunshine, rain or snow, whether a pompous train 
of the rich and proud thronged after it or few and humble 
were the mourners, behind them came the lonely woman in 
a long white garment which the people called her shroud. 
She took no place among the kindred or the friends, but 
stood at the door to hear the funeral prayer, and walked in 
the rear of the procession as one whose earthly charge it 
was to haunt the house of mourning and be the shadow of 
affliction and see that the dead were duly buried. So long 
had this been her custom that the inhabitants of the town 
deemed her a part of every funeral, as much as the coffin- 
pall or the very corpse itself, and augured ill of the sinner's 
destiny unless the Old Maid in the Winding-Sheet came 
gliding like a ghost behind. Once, it is said, she affrighted a 
bridal-party with her pale presence, appearing suddenly in 
the illuminated hall just as the priest was uniting a false 
maid to a wealthy man before her lover had been dead a 
year. Evil was the omen to that marriage. Sometimes 


she stole forth by moonlight and visited the graves of ven- 
erable integrity and wedded love and virgin innocence, and 
every spot where the ashes of a kind and faithful heart were 
mouldering. Over the hillocks of those favored dead would 
she stretch out her arms with a gesture as if she were scat- 
tering seeds, and many believed that she brought them from 
the garden of Paradise, for the graves which she had visited 
were green beneath the snow and covered with sweet flowers 
from April to November. Her blessing was better than a 
holy verse upon the tombstone. Thus wore away her long, 
sad, peaceful and fantastic life till few were so old as she, and 
the people of later generations wondered how the dead had 
ever been buried or mourners had endured their grief with- 
out the Old Maid in the Winding-Sheet. Still years went 
on, and still she followed funerals and was not yet sum- 
moned to her own festival of death. 

One afternoon the great street of the town was all alive 
with business and bustle, though the sun now gilded only 
the upper half of the church-spire, having left the house- 
tops and loftiest trees in shadow. The scene was cheerful 
and animated in spite of the sombre shade between the high 
brick buildings. Here were pompous merchants in white 
wigs and laced velvet, the bronzed faces of sea-captains, the 
foreign garb and air of Spanish Creoles, and the disdainful 
port of natives of Old England, all contrasted with the 
rough aspect of one or two back-settlers negotiating sales 
of timber from forests where axe had never sounded. Some- 
times a lady passed, swelling roundly forth in an embroi- 
dered petticoat, balancing her steps in high-heeled shoes and 
courtesying with lofty grace to the punctilious obeisances 
of the gentlemen. The life of the town seemed to have its 
very centre not far from an old mansion that stood some- 
what back from the pavement, surrounded by neglected 
grass, with a strange air of loneliness rather deepened than 
dispelled by the throng so near it. Its site would have 
been suitably occupied by a magnificent Exchange or a 


brick block lettered rJl over witli various signs, or tlie large 
house itself might have made a noble tavern with the 
" King's Arms " swinging before it and guests in every 
chamber, instead of the present solitude. But, owing to 
some dispute about the right of inheritance, the mansion 
had been long without a tenant, decaying from year to year 
and throwing the stately gloom of its shadow over the 
busiest part of the town. 

Such was the scene, and such the time, when a figure un- 
like any that have been described was observed at a distance 
down the street. 

" I espy a strange sail yonder," remarked a Liverpool 
captain — " that w^oman in the long white garment." 

The sailor seemed much struck by the object, as were 
several others who at the same moment caught a glimpse 
of the figure that had attracted his notice. Almost imme- 
diately the various topics of conversation gave place to spec- 
ulations in an undertone on this unwonted occurrence. 

" Can there be a funeral so late this afternoon ?" inquired 

They looked for the signs of death at every door — the 
sexton, the hearse, the assemblage of black-clad relatives, 
all that makes up the woeful pomp of funerals. They 
raised their eyes, also, to the sun-gilt spire of the church, 
and wondered that no clang proceeded from its bell, which 
had always tolled till now when this figure appeared in the 
light of day. But none had heard that a corpse was to be 
borne to its home that afternoon, nor was there any token 
of a funeral except the apparition of the Old Maid in the 

" What may this portend ?" asked each man of his neigh- 

All smiled as they put the question, yet with a certain 
trouble in their eyes, as if pestilence, or some other vride 
calamity, were prognosticated by the untimely intrusion 
among the living of one whose presence had always been 


associated with death and woe. What a comet is to the 
earth was that sad woman to the town. Still she moved on, 
while the hum of surprise was hushed at her approach, and 
the proud and the humble stood aside that her white gar- 
ment might not wave against them. It was a long, loose 
robe of spotless purity. Its wearer appeared very old, pale, 
emaciated and feeble, yet glided onward without the un- 
steady pace of extreme age. At one point of her course a 
little rosy boy burst forth from a door and ran with open 
arms toward the ghostly woman, seeming to expect a kiss 
from her bloodless lips. She made a slight pause, fixing 
her eye upon him with an expression of no earthly sweet- 
ness, so that the child shivered and stood awestruck rather 
than affrighted while the Old Maid passed on. Perhaps 
her garment might have been polluted even by an infant's 
touch ; perhaps her kiss would have been death to the sweet 
boy within the year. 

" She is but a shadow," whispered the superstitious. " The 
child put forth his arms and could not grasp her robe." 

The wonder was increased when the Old Maid passed be- 
neath the porch of the deserted mansion, ascended the moss- 
covered steps, lifted the iron knocker and gave three raps. 
The people could only conjecture that some old remem- 
brance, troubling her bewildered brain, had impelled the 
poor woman hither to visit the friends of her youth — all 
gone from their home long since and for ever unless their 
ghosts still haunted it, fit company for the Old Maid in the 

An elderly man approached the steps, and, reverently 
uncovering his gray locks, essayed to explain the matter. 

" None, madam," said he, " have dwelt in this house these 
fifteen years agone — no, not since the death of old Colonel 
Fenwicke, whose funeral you may remember to have fol- 
lowed. His heirs, being ill-agreed among themselves, have 
let the mansion-house go to ruin." 

The Old Maid looked slowly round with a slight gesture 


of one hand and a finger of the other upon her lip, appear- 
ing more shadow-like than ever in the obscurity of the 
porch. But again she lifted the hammer, and gave, this 
time, a single rap. Could it be that a footstep was now 
heard coming down the staircase of the old mansion which 
all conceived to have been so long untenanted ? Slowly, 
feebly, yet heavily, like the pace of an aged and infirm per- 
son, the step approached, more distinct on every downward 
stair, till it reached the portal. The bar fell on the inside ; 
the door was opened. One upward glance toward the 
church-spire, whence the sunshme had just faded, was the 
last that the people saw of the Old Maid in the Winding- 

" Who undid the door ?" asked many. 

This question, owing to the depth of shadow beneath the 
porch, no one could satisfactorily answer. Two or three 
aged men, while protesting against an inference which 
might be drawn, affirmed that the person within was a 
negro and bore a singular resemblance to old Caesar, for- 
merly a slave in the house, but freed by death some thirty 
years before. 

"Her summons has waked up a servant of the old 
family," said one, half seriously. 

" Let us wait here," replied another ; " more guests will 
knock at the door anon. But the gate of the graveyard 
should be thrown open." 

Twilight had overspread the town before the crowd 
began to separate or the comments on this incident were 
exhausted. One after another was wending his way home- 
ward, when a coach — no common spectacle in those days — 
drove slowly into the street. It was an old-fashioned 
equipage, hanging close to the ground, with arms on the 
panels, a footman behind and a grave, corpulent coachman 
seated high in front, the whole giving an idea of solemn 
state and dignity. There was something awful in the 
heavy rumbling of the wheels. 


The coach rolled down the street, till, coming to the gate- 
way of the deserted mansion, it drev,' up, and the footman 
sprang to the ground. 

" Whose grand coach is this ?" asked a very inquisitive 

The footman made no reply, but ascended the steps of 
the old house, gave three taps with the iron hammer, and 
returned to open the coach door. An old man possessed of 
the heraldic lore so common in that day examined the 
shield of arms on the panel. 

"Azure, a lion's head erased, between three flowers de 
luce," said he, then whispered the name of the family to 
whom these bearings belonged. The last inheritor of its 
honors was recently dead, after a long residence amid the 
splendor of the British court, where his birth and wealth 
had given him no mean station. " He left no child," con- 
tinued the herald, " and these arms, being in a lozenge, be- 
token that the coach appertains to his widow." 

Further disclosures, perhaps, might have been made had 
not the speaker been suddenly struck dumb by the stern 
eye of an ancient lady who thrust forth her head from the 
coach, preparing to descend. As she emerged the people 
saw that her dress was magnificent, and her figure dignified 
in spite of age and infirmity — a stately ruin, but with a 
look at once of pride and wretchedness. Her strong and 
rigid features had an awe about them unlike that of the 
white Old Maid, but as of something evil. She passed up 
the steps, leaning on a gold-headed cane. The door swung 
open as she ascended, and the light of a torch glittered on 
the embroidery of her dress and gleamed on the pillars of 
the porch. After a momentary pause, a glance backward 
and then a desperate effort, she went in. 

The decipherer of the coat-of-arms had ventured up the 
lower step, and, shrinking back immediately, pale and 
tremulous, afiirmed that the torch was held by the very 
imasre of old Csesar. 


" But such a hideous grin," added he, " was never seen 
on the face of mortal man, black or white. It will haunt 
me till my dying-day." 

Meantime, the coach had wheeled round with a prodi- 
gious clatter on the pavement and rumbled up the street, 
disappearing in the twilight, while the ear still tracked its 
course. Scarcely was it gone when the people began to 
question whether the coach and attendants, the ancient 
lady, the spectre of old Caesar and the Old Maid herself 
were not all a strangely-combined delusion with some 
dark purport in its mystery. The whole town was astir, so 
that, instead of dispersing, the crowd continually increased, 
and stood gazing up at the windows of the mansion, now 
silvered by the brightening moon. The elders, glad to in- 
dulge the narrative propensity of age, told of the long- 
faded splendor of the family, the entertainments they had 
given and the guests, the greatest of the land, and even 
titled and noble ones from abroad, who had passed beneath 
that portal. These graphic reminiscences seemed to call 
up the ghosts of those to whom they referred. So strong 
Avas the impression on some of the more imaginative hear- 
ers that two or three were seized with trembling fits at one 
and the same moment, protesting that they had distinctly 
heard three other raps of the iron knocker. 

" Impossible !" exclaimed others. " See ! The moon 
shines beneath the porch, and shows every part of it ex- 
cept in the narrow shade of that pillar. There is no one 

" Did not the door open ?" whispered one of these fanci- 
ful persons. 

" Didst thou see it too ?" said his companion, in a startled 

But the general sentiment was opposed to the idea that 
a third visitant had made application at the door of the de- 
serted house. A few, however, adhered to this new marvel, 
and even declared that a red gleam like that of a torch 


had shone through the great front window, as if the negro 
were lighting a guest up the staircase. This too was pro- 
nounced a mere fantasy. 

But at once the whole multitude started, and each man 
beheld his own terror painted in the faces of all the rest. 

" What an awful thing is this !" cried they. 

A shriek too fearfully distinct for doubt had been heard 
within the mansion, breaking forth suddenly and succeeded 
by a deep stillness, as if a heart had burst in giving it utter- 
ance. The people knew not whether to ily from the very 
sight of the house or to rush trembling in and search out 
the strange mystery. Amid their confusion and affright they 
were somewhat reassured by the appearance of their clergy- 
man, a venerable patriarch, and equally a saint, who had 
taught them and their fathers the way to heaven for more 
than the space of an ordinary lifetime. He was a reverend 
figure with long white hair upon his shoulders, a white 
beard upon his breast and a back so bent over his staff that 
he seemed to be looking downward continually, as if to 
choose a proper grave for his weary frame. It was some 
time before the good old man, being deaf and of impaired 
intellect, could be made to comprehend such portions of the 
affair as were comprehensible at all. But when possessed 
of the facts, his energies assumed unexpected vigor. 

"Verily," said the old gentleman, '' it will be fitting that 
I enter the mansion-house of the worthy Colonel Fenwicke, 
lest any harm should have befallen that true Christian 
woman whom ye call the 'Old Maid in the Winding- 
Sheet.' " 

Behold, then, the venerable clergyman ascending the 
steps of the mansion with a torch-bearer behind him. It 
was the elderly man who had spoken to the Old Maid, 
and the same who had afterward explained the shield 
of arms and recognized the features of the neorro. Like 
their predecessors, they gave three raps with the iroa 


" Old Csesar cometh not," observed the priest. " Well, I 
wot he no longer doth service in this mansion." 

"Assuredly, then, it was something worse in old Caesar's 
likeness," said the other adventurer. 

" Be it as God wills," answered the clergyman. " See ! 
my strength, though it be much decayed, hath sufficed to 
open this heavy door. Let us enter and pass up the stair- 

Here occurred a singular exemplification of the dreamy 
state of a very old man's mind. As they ascended the wide 
flight of stairs the aged clergyman appeared to move with 
caution, occasionally standing aside, and oftener bending 
his head, as it were in salutation, thus practising all the 
gestures of one who makes his way through a throng. 
Reaching the head of the staircase, he looked around with 
sad and solemn benignity, laid aside his staff, bared his 
hoary locks, and was evidently on the point of commencing 
a prayer. 

" Reverend sir," said his attendant, who conceived this a 
very suitable prelude to their further search, " would it not 
be well that the people join with ue in prayer ?" 

" Well-a-day !" cried the old clergyman, staring strangely 
around him. " Art thou here with me, and none other ? 
Verily, past times were present to me, and I deemed that I 
was to make a funeral prayer, as many a. time heretofore, 
from the head of this staircase. Of a truth, I saw the shades 
of many that are gone. Yea, I have prayed at their burials, 
one after another, and the Old Maid in the Winding-Sheet 
hath seen them to their graves." 

Being now more thoroughly awake to their present pur- 
pose, he took his staff and struck forcibly on the floor, till 
there came an echo from each deserted chamber, but no 
menial to answer their summons. They therefore walked 
along the passage, and again paused, opposite to the great 
front window, through which was seen the crowd in the 
shadow and partial moonlight of the street beneath. On 


their right hand was the open door of a chamber, and a 
closed one on their left. 

The clergyman pointed his cane to the carved oak panel 
of the latter. 

" Within that chamber," observed he, " a whole lifetime 
since, did I sit by the death-bed of a goodly young man who, 
being now at the last gasp — " Apparently, there was some 
powerful excitement in the ideas which had now flashed 
across his mind. He snatched the torch from his compan- 
ion's hand, and threw open the door with such sudden 
violence that the flame was extinguished, leaving them no 
other light than the moonbeams which fell through two 
windows into the spacious chamber. It was sufficient to 
discover all that could be known. In a high-backed oaken 
arm-chair, upright, with her hands clasped across her breast 
and her head thrown back, sat the Old Maid in the Wind- 
ing-Sheet. The stately dame had fallen on her knees with 
her forehead on the holy knees of the Old Maid, one hand 
upon the floor and the other pressed convulsively against 
her heart. It clutched a lock of hair— once sable, now dis- 
colored with a greenish mould. 

As the priest and layman advanced into the chamber the 
Old Maid's features assumed such a semblance of shifting 
expression that they trusted to hear the whole mystery ex- 
plained by a single word. But it was only the shadow of a 
tattered curtain wavinsf betwixt the dead face and the 

" Both dead !" said the venerable man. " Then who shall 
divulge the secret ? Methinks it glimmers to and fro in my 
mind like the light and shadow across the Old Maid's face. 
And now 'tis gone !" 


"And so, Peter, you won't even consider of the business?" 
said Mr. John Brown, buttoning his surtout over the snug 
rotundity of his person and drawing on his gloves. " You 
positively refuse to let me have this crazy old house, and 
the land under and adjoining, at the price named?" 

" Neither at that, nor treble the sum," responded the gaunt, 
grizzled and threadbare Peter Goldthwaite. " The fact is, 
Mr. Brown, you must find another site for your brick block 
and be content to leave my estate with the present owner. 
Next summer I intend to put a splendid new mansion over 
the cellar of the old house." 

" Pho, Peter !" cried Mr. Brown as he opened the kitchen 
door ; " content yourself with building castles in the air, 
where house-lots are cheaper than on earth, to say nothing 
of the cost of bricks and mortar. Such foundations are 
solid enough for your edifices, while this underneath us is 
just the thing for mine ; and so we may both be suited. 
AVhat say you, again ?" 

" Precisely what I said before, Mr. Brown," answered 
Peter Goldthwaite. " And, as for castles in the air, mine 
may not be as magnificent as that sort of architecture, but 
perhaps as substantial, Mr. Brown, as the very respectable 
brick block with dry-goods stores, tailors' shops and bank- 
ing-rooms on the lower floor, and lawyers' offices in the 
second story, which you are so anxious to substitute." 

" And the cost, Peter ? Eh ?" said Mr. Brown as he with* 



drew in sometliing of a pet. " That, I suppose, will be pro- 
vided for oif-hand by drawing a check on Bubble Bank ?" 

John Brown and Peter Goldthwaite had been jointly 
known to the commercial world between twenty and thirty 
years before under the firm of Goldthwaite & Brown ; which 
copartnership, however, Avas speedily dissolved by the natural 
incongruity of its constituent parts. Since that event, John 
Brown, with exactly the qualities of a thousand other John 
Browns, and by just such plodding methods as they used, 
had prospered wonderfully and become one of the wealthiest 
John Browns on earth. Peter Goldthwaite, on the contrary, 
after innumerable schemes which ought to have collected 
all the coin and paper currency of the country into his cof- 
fers, was as needy a gentleman as ever wore a patch upon 
his elbow. The contrast between him and his former part- 
ner may be briefly marked, for Brown never reckoned upon 
luck, yet always had it, while Peter made luck the main 
condition of his projects, and always missed it. While the 
means held out his speculations had been magnificent, but 
were chiefly confined of late years to such small business as 
adventures in the lottery. Once he had gone on a gold- 
gathering expedition somewhere to the South, and ingeni- 
ously contrived to empty his pockets more thoroughly than 
^ver, while others, doubtless, were filling theirs with native 
bullion by the handful. More recently he had expended a 
legacy of a thousand or two of dollars in purchasing Mex- 
ican scrip, and thereby became the proprietor of a province ; 
which, however, so far as Peter could find out, was situated 
where he might have had an empire for the same money — 
in the clouds. From a search after this valuable real estate 
Peter returned so gaunt and threadbare that on reaching 
New England the scarecrows in the corn-fields beckoned to 
him as he passed by. " They did but flutter in the wind," 
quoth Peter Goldthwaite. No, Peter, they beckoned, for 
the scarecrows knew their brother. 

At the period of our story his whole visible income would 


not have paid the tax of the old mansion in which we find 
him. It was one of those rusty, moss-grown, many-peaked 
wooden houses which are scattered about the streets of our 
elder towns, with a beetle-browed second story projecting 
over the foundation, as if it frowned at the novelty around 
it. This old paternal edifice, needy as he was, and though, 
being centrally situated on the principal street of the town, 
it would have brought him a handsome sum, the sagacious 
Peter had his own reasons for never parting with, either by 
auction or private sale. There seemed, indeed, to be a fatal- 
ity that connected him with his birthplace ; for, often as he 
had stood on the verge of ruin, and standing there even 
now, he had not yet taken the step beyond it which would 
have compelled him to surrender the house to his creditors. 
So here he dwelt with bad luck till good should come. 

Here, then, in his kitchen — the only room where a spark 
of fire took ofi* the chill of a November evening — poor Peter 
Goldthwaite had just been visited by his rich old partner. 
At the close of their interview, Peter, with rather a morti- 
fied look, glanced downward at his dress, parts of which ap- 
peared as ancient as the days of Goldthwaite & Brown, 
His upper garment was a mixed surtout, woefully faded, 
and patched with newer stuff on each elbow ; beneath this 
he wore a threadbare black coat, some of the silk buttons 
of which had been replaced with others of a diiOferent pat- 
tern ; and, lastly, though he lacked not a pair of gray pan- 
taloons, they were very shabby ones, and had been partially 
turned brown by the frequent toasting of Peter's shins be- 
fore a scanty fire. Peter's person was in keeping with his 
goodly apparel. Gray-headed, hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked 
and lean-bodied, he was the perfect picture of a man who 
had fed on windy schemes and empty hopes till he could 
neither live on such unwholesome trash nor stomach more 
substantial food. But, withal, this Peter Goldthwaite, crack- 
brained simpleton as, perhaps, he was, might have cut a 


"very brilliant figure in the world had he employed his im- 
agination in the airy business of poetry instead of making- 
it a demon of mischief in mercantile j^ursuits. After all, 
he was no bad fellow, but as harmless as a child, and as 
honest and honorable, and as much of the gentleman which 
Nature meant him for, as an irregular life and dejjressed 
circumstances will permit any man to be. 

As Peter stood on the uneven bricks of his hearth look- 
ing round at the disconsolate old kitchen his eyes began to 
kindle with the illumination of an enthusiasm that never 
long deserted him. He raised his hand, clenched it and 
smote it energetically against the smoky panel over the fire- 

" The time is come," said he ; " with such a treasure at 
command, it were folly to be a poor man any longer. To- 
morrow morning I will begin with the garret, nor desist till 
I have torn the house down." 

Deep in the chimney-corner, like a witch in a dark cav- 
ern, sat a little old woman mending one of the two pairs of 
stockings wherewith Peter Goldthwaite kept his toes from 
being frost-bitten. As the feet were ragged past all darn- 
ing, she had cut pieces out of a cast-off flannel petticoat to 
make new soles. Tabitha Porter was an old maid upward 
of sixty years of age, fifty-five of which she had sat in that 
same chimney-corner, such being the length of time since 
Peter's grandfather had taken her from the almshouse. She 
had no friend but Peter, nor Peter any friend but Tabitha ; 
so long as Peter might have a shelter for his own head, Ta- 
bitha would know where to shelter hers, or, being homeless 
elsewhere, she would take her master by the hand and bring 
him to her native home, the almshouse. Should it ever be 
necessary, she loved him well enough to feed him with her 
last morsel and clothe him with her under-petticoat. But 
Tabitha was a queer old woman, and, though never infected 
■with Peter's flightiness, had become so accustomed to his 
A-eaks and follies that she viewed them all a,s matters of 


course, i^eailxig him threaten to tear the house down, she 
looked .quietly up from her work. 

" Best leave the kxtchen till the last, IMr. Peter," said she. 

" The sooner we ha\ e it all down, the better," said Peter 
Goldthwaite. " I am iired to death of living in this cold, 
dark, windy, smoky, creaking, groaning, dismal old house. 
I shall feel like a younger man when we get into my splen- 
did brick mansion, as, please Heaven, we shall by this time 
next autumn. You shall have a room on the sunny side, 
old Tabby, finished and furnished as best may suit your 
own notions." 

" I should like it pretty much such a room as this kitch- 
en," answered Tabitha. " It will never be like home to me 
till the chimney-corner gets as black with smoke as this, I 
and that won't be these hundred years. How much do you 
mean to lay out on the house, Mr. Peter?" j 

" What is that to the purpose ?" exclaimed Peter, loftily. " 
" Did not my great-grand-uncle, Peter Goldthwaite, who 
died seventy years ago, and whose namesake I am, leave 
treasure enough to build twenty such ?" 

" I can't say but he did, Mr. Peter," said Tabitha, thread- 2 
ing her needle. I 

Tabitha well understood that Peter had reference to an 
immense hoard of the precious metals which was said to 
exist somewhere in the cellar or walls, or under the floors, 
or in some concealed closet or other out-of-the-way nook of 
the old house. This wealth, according to tradition, had 
been accumulated by a former Peter Goldthwaite whose 
character seems to have borne a remarkable similitude to 
that of the Peter of our story. Like him, he was a wild 
projector, seeking to heap up gold by the bushel and the 
cart-load instead of scraping it together coin by coin. Like 
Peter the second, too, his projects had almost invariably 
failed, and, but for the magnificent success of the final one, 
would have left him with hardly a coat and pair of breeches 
to his gaunt and grizzled person. Reports were various as 


to the nature of his fortunate speculation, one Intimating 
that the ancient Peter had made the gold by alchemy ; an- 
other, that he had conjured it out of people's pockets by 
the black art ; and a third — still more unaccountable — that 
the devil hed given him free access to the old provincial 
treasury. It was affirmed, however, that some secret im- 
pediment had debarred him from the enjoyment of his 
riches, and that he had a motive for concealing them from 
his heir, or, at any rate, had died without disclosing the 
place of deposit. The present Peter's father had faith 
enough in the story to cause the cellar to be dug over. 
Peter himself chose to consider the legend as an indisputa- 
ble truth, and amid his many troubles had this one conso- 
lation — that, should all other resources fail, he might build 
up his fortunes by tearing his house down. Yet, unless he 
felt a lurking distrust of the golden tale, it is difficult to 
Jiccount for his permitting the paternal roof to stand so 
long, since he had never yet seen the moment when his 
predecessor's treasure would not have found plenty of room 
in his own strong-box. But now" was the crisis. Should he 
delay the search a little longer, the house would pass from 
the lineal heir, and with it the vast heap of gold, to remain 
in its burial-place till the ruin of the aged walls should dis- 
cover it to strangers of a future generation. 

" Yes," cried Peter Goldthwaite, again ; " to-morrow I 
will set about it." 

The deeper he looked at the matter, the more certain of 
success grew Peter. His spirits w^ere naturally so elastic 
that even now, in the blasted autumn of his age, he could 
often compete with the springtime gayety of other people. 
Enlivened by his brightening prospects, he began to caper 
about the kitchen like a hobgoblin, with the queerest antics 
of his lean limbs and gesticulations of his starved features. 
Nay, in the exuberance of his feelings, he seized both of 
Tabitha's hands and danced the old lady across the floor 
till the oddity of her rheumatic motions set him into a roar 


of laughter, which was echoed back from the rooms and 
chambers, as if Peter Goldthwaite were laughing in every- 
one. Finally, he bounded upward, almost out of sight, into 
the smoke that clouded the roof of the kitchen, and, alight- 
ing safely on the floor again, endeavored to recume his cus- 
tomary gravity. 

" To-morrow, at sunrise," he repeated, taking his lamp to 
retire to bed, " I'll see whether this treasure be hid in the 
wall of the garret." 

"And, as we're out of wood, Mr. Peter," said Tabitha, i 
puffing and panting with her late gymnastics, " as fast as 
you tear the house down I'll make a fire with the pieces." 

Gorgeous that night were the dreams of Peter Gold- 
thwaite. At one time he was turning a ponderous key in 
an iron door not unlike the door of a sepulchre, but which, 
being opened, disclosed a vault he?.ped up with gold coin 
as plentifully as golden corn in a granary. There were 
chased goblets, also, and tureens, salvers, dinner-dishes and 
dish-covers of gold or silver-gilt, besides chains and other 
jewels, incalculably rich, though tarnished with the damps 
of the vault ; for, of all the wealth t!iat was irrevocably 
lost to man, whether buried in the earth or sunken in the 
sea, Peter Goldthwaite had found it in this one treasure- 
place. Anon he had returned to the old house as poor as 
ever, and was received at the door by the gaunt and griz. 
zled figure of a man whom he might have mistaken for 
himself, only that his garments were of a much elder fash- 
ion. But the house, without losing its former aspect, had 
been changed into a palace of the precious metals. The 
floors, walls and ceilings were of burnished silver; the 
doors, the window-frames, the cornices, the balustrades and 
the steps of the staircase, of pure gold ; and silver, with 
gold bottoms, were the chairs, and gold, standing on silver 
legs, the high chests of drawers, and silver the bedsteads, 
with blankets of woven gold and sheets of silver tissue. 
The house had evidently been transmuted by a single 


touch, for it retained all the marks that Peter remembered, 
but in gold or silver instead of wood, and the initials of 
his name — which when a boy he had cut in the wooden 
door-post — remained as deep in the pillar of gold. A 
happy man would have been Peter Goldthwaite except for 
a certain ocular deception which, whenever he glanced 
backward, caused the house to darken from its glittering 
magnificence into the sordid gloom of yesterday. 

Up betimes rose Peter, seized an axe, hammer and saw 
which he had placed by his bedside, and hied him to the 
garret. It was but scantily lighted up as yet by the frosty 
fragments of a sunbeam which began to glimmer through 
the almost opaque bull-eyes of the window. A moralizer 
might find abundant themes for his speculative and im- 
practicable wisdom in a garret. There is the limbo of de- 
parted fashions, aged trifles of a day and whatever was 
valuable only to one generation of men, and which passed 
to the garret when that generation passed to the grave — 
not for safekeeping, but to be out of the way. Peter saw 
piles of yellow and musty account-books in parchment 
covers, wherein creditors long dead and buried had written 
the names of dead and buried debtors in ink now so faded 
that their moss-grown tombstones were more legible. He 
found old moth-eaten garments, all in rags and tatters, or 
Peter would have put them on. Here was a naked and 
rusty sword — not a sword of service, but a gentleman's 
small French rapier — which had never left its scabbard 
till it lost it. Here were canes of twenty different sorts, 
but no gold-headed ones, and shoebuckles of various pat- 
tern and material, but not silver nor set with precious 
stones. Here was a large box full of shoes with high heels 
and peaked toes. Here, on a shelf, v/ere a multitude of 
phials half filled with old apothecary's stuff which, when 
the other half had done its business on Peter's ancestors, 
had been brought hither from the death-chamber. Here — 
not to give a longer inventory of articles that will never be 


put up at auction — was the fragment of a full-length look' 
ing-glass which by the dust and dimness of its surface made 
the picture of these old things look older than the reality. 
AVhen Peter, not knowing that there was a mirror there, 
caught the faint traces of his own figure, he partly im- 
aofined that the former Peter Goldthwaite had come back 
either to assist or impede his search for the hidden wealth. 
And at that moment a strange notion glimmered through 
his brain that he was the identical Peter who had concealed 
the gold, and ought to know whereabout it lay. This, how- 
ever, he had unaccountably forgotten. 

"Well; Mr. Peter!" cried Tabitha, on the garret stairs. 
" Have you torn the house down enough to heat the tea- 

" Not yet, old Tabby," answered Peter, " but that's soon 
done, as you shall see." With the word in his moutli, he 
uplifted the axe, and laid about him so vigorously that the 
dust flew, the boards crashed, and in a twinkling the old 
woman had an apron full of broken rubbish. 

" AVe shall get our winter's wood cheap," quoth Tabitha. 

The good work being thus commenced, Peter beat down 
all before him, smiting and hewing at the joints and tim- 
bers, unclenching spike-nails, ripping and tearing away 
boards, with a tremendous racket from morning till night. 
He took care, however, to leave the outside shell of the 
house untouched, so that the neighbors might not suspect 
what was going on. 

Never, in any of his vagaries, though each had made 
him happy while it lasted, had Peter been happier than 
now. Perhaps, after all, there was something in Peter 
Goldthwaite's turn of mind which brought him an inward 
recompense for all the external evil that it caused. If he 
were poor, ill-clad, even hungry and exposed, as it were, to 
be utterly annihilated by a precipice of impending ruin, 
yet only his body remained in these miserable circum- 
stances, while his aspiring soul enjoyed the sunshine of a 


bright futurity. It was his nature to be always young, and 
the tendency of his mode of life to keep him so. Gray 
hairs were nothing — no, nor wrinkles nor infirmity ; he 
might look old, indeed, and be somewhat disagreeably con- 
nected with a gaunt old figure much the worse for wear, 
but the true, the essential Peter was a young man of high 
hopes just entering on the world. At the kindling of each 
new fire his burnt-out youth rose afresh from the old em- 
bers and ashes. It rose exulting now. Having lived thus 
long — not too long, but just to the right age — a susceptible 
bachelor with warm and tender dreams, he resolved, so soon 
as the hidden gold should flash to light, to go a-wooing and 
win the love of the fairest maid in town. What heart 
could resist him ? Happy Peter Goldthwaite ! 

Every evening — as Peter had long absented himself from 
his former lounging-places at insurance offices, news-rooms, 
and book-stores, and as the honor of his company was seldom 
requested in private circles — he and Tabitha used to sit down 
sociably by the kitchen hearth. This was always heaped 
plentifully with the rubbish of his day's labor. As the foun- 
dation of the fire there would be a goodly-sized back-log 
of red oak, which after being sheltered from rain or damp 
above a century still hissed with the heat and distilled streams 
of water from each end, as if the tree had been cut down 
within a week or two. Next there were large sticks, sound, 
black and heavy, which had lost the principle of decay and 
were indestructible except by fire, wherein they glowed like 
red-hot bars of iron. On this solid basis Tabitha would rear a 
lighter structure, composed of the splinters of door-panels, 
ornamented mouldings, and such quick combustibles, which 
caught like straw and threw a brilliant blaze high up the 
spacious flue, making its sooty sides visible almost to the 
chimney-top. Meantime, the gloom of the old kitchen 
would be chased out of the cobwebbed corners and away 
from the dusky cross-beams overhead, and driven nobody 
could tell whither, while Peter smiled like a gladsome man 


and Tabitha seemed a picture of comfortable age. All this, 
of course, was but an emblem of the bright fortune which 
the destruction of the house would shed upon its occupants. 

While the dry pine was flaming and crackling like an 
irregular discharge of fairy-musketry, Peter sat looking and 
listening in a pleasant state of excitement ; but when the 
brief blaze and uproar were succeeded by the dark-red 
glow, the substantial heat and the deep singing sound which 
were to last throughout the evening, 'his humor became 
talkative. One night — the hundredth time — he teased 
Tabitha to tell him something new about his great-grand- 

" You have been sitting in that chimney-corner fifty-five 
years, old Tabby, and must have heard many a tradition 
about him," said Peter. " Did not you tell me that when 
you first came to the house there was an old woman sitting 
where you sit now who had been housekeeper to the famous 
Peter Goldthwaite ?" 

" So there was, Mr. Peter," answered Tabitha, " and she 
was near about a hundred years old. She used to say that 
she and old Peter Goldthwaite had often spent a sociable 
evening by the kitchen fire — ^pretty much as you and I are 
doing now, Mr. Peter." 

" The old fellow must have resembled me in more points 
than one," said Peter, complacently, " or he never would 
have grown so rich. But methinks he might have invested 
the money better than he did. No interest ! nothing but 
good security ! and the house to be torn down to come at it ! 
What made him hide it so snug, Tabby?" 

" Because he could not spend it," said Tabitha, " for as 
often as he went to unlock the chest the Old Scratch came 
behind and caught his arm. The money, they say, was 
paid Peter out of his purse, and he wanted Peter to give 
him a deed of this house and land, which Peter swore he 
would not do." 

" Just as I swore to John Brown, my old partner," re- 


marked Peter. " But this is all nonsense, Tabby ; I don't 
believe the story." 

" Well, it may not be just the truth," said Tabitha, " for 
some folks say that Peter did make over the house to the 
Old Scratch, and that's the reason it has always been so 
unlucky to them that lived in it. And as soon as Peter 
had given him the deed the chest flew open, and Peter 
caught up a handful of the gold. But, io and behold! 
there was nothing in his fist but a parcel of old rags." 

" Hold your tongue, you silly old Tabby !" cried Peter, in 
great wrath. " They were as good golden guineas as ever 
bore the efhgies of the king of England. It seems as if I 
could recollect the whole circumstance, and how I, or old 
Peter, or whoever it was, thrust in my hand, or his hand, 
and drew it out all of a blaze with gold. Old rags indeed !" 

But it was not an old woman's legend that would discour- 
age Peter Goldthwaite. All night long he slej^t among 
pleasant dreams, and awoke at daylight with a joyous throb 
of the heart which few are fortunate enough to feel beyond 
their boyhood. Day after day he labored hard without 
wasting a moment except at meal-times, when Tabitha sum- 
moned him to the pork and cabbage, or such other suste- 
nance as she had picked up or Providence had sent them. 
Being a truly pious man, Peter never failed to ask a bless- 
ing — if the food were none of the best, then so much the 
more earnestly, as it was more needed — nor to return 
thanks, if the dinner had been scanty, yet for the good ap- 
petite which was better than a sick stomach at a feast. 
Then did he hurry back to his toil, and in a moment was 
lost to sight in a cloud of dust from the old walls, though 
sufficiently perceptible to the ear by the clatter which he 
raised in the midst of it. 

How enviable is the consciousness of being usefully em- 
ployed^ IN'othing troubled Peter, or nothing but those 
phantoms of the mind which seem like vague recollections, 
yet have also the aspect of presentiments. He often paused 


with his axe uplifted in the air, and said to himself, " Peter 
Goldthwaite, did you never strike this blow before?" or 
" Peter, what need of tearing the whole house down ? Think 
a little while, and you will remember where the gold is hid- 
den." Days and weeks passed on, however, without any 
remarkable discovery. Sometimes, indeed, a lean gray rat 
peeped forth at the lean gray man, v/ondering what devil 
had got iiito the old house, which had ah^^ys been so peace- 
able till now. And occasionally Peter sympathized with 
the sorrows of a female mouse w^ho had brought five or six 
pretty, little, soft and delicate young ones into the world 
just in time to see them crushed by its ruin. But as yet 
no treasure. 

By this time, Peter, being as determined as fate and as 
diligent as time, had made an end with the uppermost re- 
gions and got down to tlie second story, where he was busy 
in one of the front chambers. It liad formerly been the 
state-bedchamber, and was honored by tradition as the 
sleeping-apartment of Governor Dudley and many other 
eminent guests. The furniture was gone. There were rem- 
nants of faded and tattered paper-hangings, but larger 
spaces of bare wall ornamented with charcoal sketches, 
chiefly of people's heads in profile. These being specimens 
of Peter's youthful genius, it went more to his heart to ob- 
literate them than if they had been pictures on a church 
wall by Michael Angelo. One sketch, however, and that 
the best one, affected him differently. It represented a 
ragged man partly supporting himself on a spade and bend- 
ing his lean body over a hole in the earth, with one hand 
extended to grasp something that he had found. But close 
behind him, with a fiendish laugh on his features, appeared 
a figure with horns, a tufted tail and a cloven hoof. 

"Avaunt, Satan!" cried Peter. "The man shall have 
his gold." Uplifting his axe, he hit the horned gentleman 
such a blow on the head as not only demolished him, but 


the treasure-seeker also, and caused the whole scene to van- 
ish like magic. Moreover, his axe broke quite through the 
plaster and laths and discovered a cavity. 

" Mercy on us, Mr. Peter ! Are you quarrelling with the 
Old Scratch ?" said Tabitha, who was seeking some fuel to 
put under the dinner-pot. 

Without answering the old w^oman, Peter broke down a 
further space of the wall, and laid open a small closet or 
cupboard on one side of the fireplace, about breast-high 
from the ground. It contained nothing but a brass lamp 
covered with verdigris, and a dusty piece of parchment. 
While Peter inspected the latter, Tabitha seized the lamp 
and began to rub it with her apron. 

" There is no use in rubbing it, Tabitha," said Peter. " It 
is not Aladdin's lamp, though I take it to be a token of as 
much luck. Look here, Tabby !" 

Tabitha took the parchment and held it close to her nose, 
which was saddled with a pair of iron-bound spectacles. 
But no sooner had she begun to puzzle over it than she 
burst into a chuckling laugh, holding both her hands against 
her sides. 

" You can't make a fool of the old woman," cried she. 
" This is your own handwriting, Mr. Peter, the same as in 
the letter you sent me from Mexico." 

" There is certainly a considerable resemblance," said 
Peter, again examining the parchment. " But you know 
yourself, Tabby, that this closet must have been plastered 
up before you came to the house or I came into the world. 
No; this is old Peter Goldthwaite's writing. These col- 
umns of pounds, shillings and pence are his figures, denot- 
ing the amount of the treasure, and this, at the bottom, is 
doubtless a reference to the place of concealment. But the 
ink has either faded or peeled off, so that it is absolutely 
illegible. What a pity !" 

" Well, this lamp is as good as new. That's some com- 
fort," said Tabitha. 


" A lamp !" thought Peter. " That indicates light on my 

For the present Peter felt more inclined to ponder on this 
discovery than to resume his la,bors. After Tabitha had 
gone down stairs he stood poring over the parchment at one 
of the front windows, which was so obscured with dust that 
the sun could barely throw an uncertain shadow of the 
casement across the floor. Peter forced it open and looked 
out upon the great street of the town, while the sun looked 
in at his old house. The air, though mild, and even warm, 
thrilled Peter as with a dash of water. 

It was the first day of the January thaw. The snow lay 
deep upon the housetops, but was rapidly dissolving into 
millions of water-drops, which sparkled downward through 
the sunshine with the noise of a summer shower beneath the 
eavel Along the street the trodden snow was as hard and 
solid as a pavement of white marble, and had not yet grown 
moist in the spring-like temperature. But when Peter 
thrust forth his head, he saw that the inhabitants, if not the 
town, were already thawed out by this warm day, after two 
or three weeks of winter weather. It gladdened him — a 
gladness with a sigh breathing through it — to see the stream 
of ladies gliding along the slippery sidewalks with their red 
cheeks set off by quilted hoods, boas and sable capes like 
roses amidst a new kind of foliage. The sleigh-bells jingled 
to and fro continually, sometimes announcing the arrival 
of a sleigh from Vermont laden with the frozen bodies of 
porkers or sheep, and perhaps a deer or two ; sometimes, of 
a regular marketman with chickens, geese and turkeys, 
comprising the whole colony of a barn-yard ; and some- 
times, of a farmer and his dame who had come to town 
partly for the ride, partly to go a-shopping and partly for 
the sale of some eggs and butter. This couple rode in an 
old-fashioned square sleigh which had served them twenty 
winters and stood twenty summers in the sun beside their 
door. Now a gentleman and lady skimmed the snow in an 


elegant car shaped somewhat like a cockle-shell ; now a 
stage-sleigh with its cloth curtains thrust aside to admit the 
sun dashed raj^idly down the street, whirling in and out 
among the vehicles that obstructed its passage ; now came 
round a corner the similitude of Koah's ark on runners, 
being an immense open sleigh with seats for fifty people and 
drawn by a dozen horses. This spacious receptacle was pop- 
ulous with merry maids and merry bachelors, merry girls 
and boys and merry old folks, all alive with fun and grin- 
ning to the full width of their mouths. They kept up a 
buzz of babbling voices and low laughter, and sometimes 
burst into a deep, joyous shout which the spectators an- 
swered with three cheers, while a gang of roguish boys let 
drive their snow-balls right among the j)leasu re-party. The 
sleigh passed on, and when concealed by a bend of the street 
was still audible by a distant cry of merriment. 

Never had Peter beheld a livelier scene than was consti- 
tuted by all these accessories — the bright sun, the flashing 
water-drops, the gleaming snow, the cheerful multitude, the 
variety of rapid vehicles and the jingle-jangle of merry 
bells which made the heart dance to their music. Kothing 
dismal was to be seen except that peaked piece of antiquity 
Peter Goldthwaite's house, which might well look sad ex- 
ternally, since such a terrible consumption was preying on 
its insides. And Peter's gaunt figure, half visible in the 
projecting second story, was worthy of his house. 

" Peter ! How sroes it, friend Peter ?" cried a voice across 
the street as Peter was drawing in his head. " Look out 
here, Peter!" 

Peter looked, and saw his old partner, Mr. John Brown, 
on the opposite sidewalk, portly and comfortable, with his 
furred cloak thrown open, disclosing a handsome surtout 
beneath. His voice had directed the attention of the whole 
town to Peter Goldthwaite's window, and to the dusty scare- 
crow which appeared at it. 

" I say, Peter !" cried Mr. Brown, again ; " what the devil 



are ycu about there, that I hear such a racket whenever I 
pass by ? You are repairing the old house, I suppose, mak- 
ing a new one of it ? Eh ?" 

" Too late for that, I am afraid, Mr. Brown," replied 
Peter. " If I make it new, it will be new inside and out, 
from the cellar upward." 

" Had not you better let me take the job ?" said Mr. 
Brown, significantly. 

" Not yet," answered Peter, hastily shutting the window ; 
for ever since he had been in search of the treasure he 
hated to have people stare at him. 

As he drew back, ashamed of his outward poverty, yet 
proud of the secret wealth within his grasp, a haughty smile 
shone out on Peter's visage with precisely the effect of the 
dim sunbeams in the squalid chamber. He endeavored to 
assume such a mien as his ancestor had probably worn when 
he gloried in the building of a strong house for a home to 
many generations of his posterity. But the chamber was 
very dark to his snow-dazzled eyes, and very dismal, too, in 
contrast with the living scene that he had just looked upon. 
His brief glimpse into the street had given him a forcible 
impression of the manner in which the world kept itself 
cheerful and prosperous by social pleasures and an inter- 
course of business, while he in seclusion was pursuing an 
object that might possibly be a phantasm by a method 
which most people would call madness. It is one great ad- 
vantage of a gregarious mode of life that each person rec- 
tifies his mind by other minds and squares his conduct to 
that of his neighbors, so as seldom to be lost in eccentricity. 
Peter Goldthwaite had exposed himself to this influence by 
merely looking out of the window. For a while he doubted 
whether there were any hidden chest of gold, and in that 
case whether it was so exceedingly wise to tear the house 
down only to be convinced of its non-existence. 

But this was momentary. Peter the Destroyer resumed 
the task which Fate had assigned him, nor faltered again 


till it wda accomplished. In the course of his search he 
met with many things that are usually found in the ruins 
of an old house, and also with some that are not. What 
seemed most to the purpose was a rusty key which had been 
thrust into a chink of the wall, with a wooden label ap- 
pended to the handle, bearing the initials " P. G." Another 
singular discovery was that of a bottle of wine walled up 
in an old oven. A tradition ran in the family that Peter's 
grandfather, a jovial officer in the old French war, had set 
aside many dozens of the precious liquor for the benefit of 
topers then unborn. Peter needed no cordial to sustain his 
hopes, and therefore kept the wine to gladden his success. 
Many half-pence did he pick up that had been lost through 
the cracks of the lioor, and some few Spanish coins, and the 
half of a broken sixpence which had doubtless been a love- 
token. There was likewise a silver coronation medal of 
George III. But old Peter Goldthwaite's strong-box fled 
from one dark corner to another, or othei'wise eluded the 
second Peter's clutches till, should he seek much farther, he 
must burrow into the earth. 

We will not follow him in his triumphant progress step 
by step. Suffice it that Peter worked like a steam-engine 
and finished in that one winter the job which all the former 
inhabitants of the house, with time and the elements to aid 
them, had only half done in a century. Except the kitchen, 
every room and chamber was now gutted. The house was 
nothing but a shell, the apparition of a house, as unreal as 
the painted edifices of a theatre. It was like the perfect 
rind of a great cheese in which a mouse had dwelt and 
nibbled till it was a cheese no more. And Peter was the 

What Peter had torn down, Tabitha had burnt up, for 
she wisely considered that without a house they should need 
no wood to warm it, and therefore economy was nonsense. 
Thus the whole house mis^ht be said to have dissolved in 
smoke and flown up among the clouds through the great 


black flue of the kitchen chimney. It was an admirable 
parallel to the feat of the man who jumped down his own 

On the night between the last day of winter and the first 
of spring every chink and cranny had been ransacked ex- 
cept within the precincts of the kitchen. This fated even- 
ing was an ugly one. A snow-storm had set in some hours 
before, and was still driven and tossed about the atmosphere 
by a real hurricane which fought against the house as if 
the prince of the air in person were putting the final stroke 
to Peter's labors. The framework heimr so much weakened 
and the inward props removed, it would have been no 
marvel if in some stronger wrestle of the blast the rotten 
walls of the edifice and all the peaked roofs had come 
crashing down upon the owner's head. He, however, was 
careless of the peril, but as wild and restless as the night 
itself, or as the flame that quivered up the chimney at each 
roar of the tempestuous wind. 

" The w^ine, Tabitha," he cried — " my grandfather's rich 
old wine ! We will drink it now." 

Tabitha arose from her smoke-blackened bench in the 
chimney-corner and placed the bottle before Peter, close 
beside the old brass lamp which had likewise been the 
prize of his researches. Peter held it before his eyes, and, 
looking through the liquid medium, beheld the kitchen 
illuminated with a golden glory which also enveloped Ta- 
bitha and gilded her silver hair and converted her mean 
garments into robes of queenly splendor. It reminded him 
of his golden dream. 

"Mr. Peter," remarked Tabitha, "must the wine be drunk 
before the money is found ?" 

" The money is found !" exclaimed Peter, with a sort of 
fierceness. " The chest is within my reach ; I will not sleep 
till I have turned this key in the rusty lock. But first of 
all let us drink." 

There being no corkscrew in the house, he smote the neck 


of the bottle with old Peter Goldthwaite's rusty key, and 
decapitated the sealed cork at a single blow. He then 
filled two little china teacups which Tabitha had brought 
from the cupboard. vSo clear and brilliant was this aged 
wine that it shone within the cups and rendered the sprig 
of scarlet flowers at the bottom of each more distinctly vis- 
ible than when there had been no wine there. Its rich and 
delicate perfume wasted itself round the kitchen. 

" Drink, Tabitha !" cried Peter. " Blessings on the honest 
old fellow who set aside this good liquor for you and me I 
And here's to Peter Goldthwaite's memory !" 

'•And good cause have we to remember him," quoth 
Tabitha as she drank. 

How many years, and through what changes of fortune 
and various calamity, had that bottle hoarcied up its effer- 
vescent joy, to be quaffed at last by two such boon-compan- 
ions ! A portion of the happiness of a former age had been 
kept for them, and was now set free in a crowd of rejoicing 
visions to sport amid the storm and desolation of the present 
time. Until they have finished the bottle we must turn our 
eyes elsewhere. 

It so chanced that on this stormy night Mr. John Brown 
found himself ill at ease in his wire-cushioned arm-chair by 
the glowing grate of anthracite which heated his handsome 
parlor. He was naturally a good sort of a man, and kind 
and pitiful whenever the misfortunes of others happened to 
reach his heart through the padded vest of his own prosper- 
ity. This evening he had thought much about his old 
partner, Peter Goldthwaite, his strange vagaries and con- 
tinual ill-luck, the poverty of his dwelling at Mr. Brown's 
last visit, and Peter's crazed and haggard aspect when he 
had talked with him at the window. 

"Poor fellow!" thought Mr. John Brown. "Poor crack- 
brained Peter Goldthwaite ! For old acquaintance' sake I 
ought to have taken care that he was comfortable this rough 
winter." These feelings grew so powerful that, in spite of 


the inclement weather, lie resolved to visit Peter Gold- 
thwaite immediately. 

The strength of the impulse was really singular. Every 
shriek of the blast seemed a summons, or would have seemed 
so had Mr. Bro^Ti been accustomed to hear the echoes of 
his own fancy in the wind. Much amazed at such active 
benevolence, he huddled himself in his cloak, muffled his 
throat and ears in comforters and handkerchiefs, and, thus 
fortified, bade defiance to the tempest. But the powers of 
the air had rather the best of the battle. Mr. Brown was 
just weathering the corner by Peter Goldthwaite's house 
when the hurricane caught him off his feet, tossed him face 
downward into a snow-bank and proceeded to bury his pro- 
tuberant part beneath fresh drifts. There seemed little 
hope of his reappearance earlier than the next thaw. At 
the same moment his hat was snatched away and whirled 
aloft into some far-distant region whence no tidings have as 
yet returned. 

Nevertheless Mr. Brown contrived to burrow a passage 
through the snow-drift, and with his bare head bent against 
the storm floundered onv/ard to Peter's door. There was 
such a creaking and groaning and rattling, and such an 
ominous shaking, throughout the crazy edifice that the loud- 
est rap would have been inaudible to those ^vithin. He 
therefore entered without ceremony, and groped his way to 
the kitchen. His intrusion even there was unnoticed. Peter 
and Tabitha stood with their backs to the door, stooping 
over a large chest which apparently they had just dragged 
from a cavity or concealed closet on the left side of the 
chimney. By the lamp in the old woman's hand Mr. Brown 
saw that the chest was baiTed and clamped with iron, 
strengthened with iron plates and studded with iron nails, 
so as to be a fit receptacle in which the wealth of one cen- 
tury might be hoarded up for the wants of another. 

Peter Goldthwaite was inserting a key into the lock. 

" Oh, Tabitha," cried he, with tremulous rapture, " how 


shall I endure the effulgence? The gold! — the bright, 
bright gold ! Methinks I can remember my last glance at 
it just as the iron-plated lid fell down. And ever since, 
being seventy years, it has been blazing in secret and gath- 
ering its splendor against this glorious moment. It will 
flash upon us like the noonday sun." 

*' Then shade your eyes, Mr. Peter !" said Tabitha, with 
somewhat less patience than usual. " But, for mercy's sake, 
do turn the key !" 

And with a strong effort of both hands Peter did force 
the rusty key through the intricacies of the rusty lock. Mr. 
Brown, in the mean time, had drawn near and thrust his 
easrer visaq^e between those of the other two at the instant 
that Peter threw up the lid. Ko sudden blaze illuminated 
the kitchen. 

" What's here ?" exclaimed Tabitha, adjusting her spec- 
tacles and holding the lamp over the open chest. " Old 
Peter Goldthwaite's hoard of old rags !" 

"Pretty much so, Tabby," said Mr. Brown, lifting a 
handful of the treasure. 

Oh what a ghost of dead and buried wealth had Peter 
Goldthwaite raised to scare himself out of his scanty wits 
withal ! Here was the semblance of an incalculable sum, 
enough to purchase the whole town and build every' street 
anew, but which, vast as it was, no sane man would have 
given a solid sixpence for. What, then, in sober earnest, 
were the delusive treasures of the chest ? Why, here were 
old provincial bills of credit and treasury notes and bills 
of land-banks, and all other bubbles of the sort, from the 
first issue — above a century and a half ago — down nearly 
to the Revolution. Bills of a thousand pounds were inter- 
mixed with parchment pennies, and worth no more than 

"And this, then, is old Peter Goldthwaite's treasure !" 
said John Brown. " Your namesake, Peter, was something 
like yourself; and when the provincial currency had de- 



predated fifty or seventy-five per cent., he bought it up in 
expectation of a rise. I have heard my grandfather say 
that old Peter gave his father a mortgage of this very 
house and land to raise cash for his silly project. But the 
currency kept sinking till nobody would take it as a gift, 
and there was old Peter Goldthwaite, like Peter the second, 
with thousands in his strong-box and hardly a coat to his 
back. He went mad upon the strength of it. But never 
mind, Peter ; it is just the sort of capital for building cas- 
tles in the air." 

" The house will be down about our ears," cried Tabitha 
as the wind shook it with increasing violence. 

" Let it fall," said Peter, folding his arms, as he seated 
himself upon the chest. 

" No, no, my old friend Peter !" said John Brown. " I 
have house-room for you and Tabby, and a safe vault for 
the chest of treasure. To-morrow we will try to come to 
an agreement about the sale of this old house ; real estate 
is well up, and I could afibrd you a pretty handsome price." 

"And I," observed Peter Goldthwaite, with reviving 
spirits, " have a plan for laying out the cash to great ad- 

" Why, as to that," muttered John Brown to himself, 
" we must apply to the next court for a guardian to take 
care of the solid cash ; and if Peter insists upon speculating, 
he may do it to his heart's content with old Peter Gold- 
thwaite's treasure." 


Passing a summer several years since at Edgai'town, on 
the island of Martha's Vineyard, I became acquainted 
with a certain carver of tombstones who had travelled and 
voyaged thither from the interior of Massachusetts in 
search of professional employment. The speculation had 
turned out so successful that my friend expected to trans- 
mute slate and marble into silver and gold to the amount 
of at least a thousand dollars during the few months of his 
sojourn at Nantucket and the Vineyard. The secluded 
life and the simple and primitive spirit which still charac- 
terizes the inhabitants of those islands, especially of Martha's 
Vineyard, insure their dead friends a longer and dearer re- 
membrance than the daily novelty and revolving bustle of 
the world can elsewhere afford to beings of the past. Yet, 
while every family is anxious to erect a memorial to its 
departed members, the untainted breath of Ocean bestows 
such health and length of days upon the people of the 
isles as would cause a melancholy dearth of business to a 
resident artist in that line. His own monument, recording 
his decease by starvation, would probably be an early 
specimen of his skill. Gravestones, therefore, have gener- 
ally been an article of imported merchandise. 

in my walks through the burial-ground of Edgartown — 
Avhere the dead have lain so long that the soil, once en- 
riched by their decay, has returned to its original barren- 
ness — in that ancient burial-ground I noticed much variety 


of monumental sculpture. The elder stones, dated a cen- 
tury back or more, have borders elaborately carved with 
flowers and are adorned with a multiplicity of death's- 
heads, crossbones, scythes, hour-glasses, and other lugubri- 
ous emblems of mortality, with here and there a winged 
cherub to direct the mourner's spirit upward. These pro- 
ductions of Gothic taste must have been quite beyond the 
colonial skill of the day, and were probably carved in 
London and brought across the ocean to commemorate the 
defunct worthies of this lonely isle. The more recent monu- 
ments are mere slabs of slate in the ordinary style, without 
any superfluous flourishes to set off* the bald inscriptions. 
But others — and those far the most impressive both to my 
taste and feelings — were roughly hewn from the gray rocks 
of the island, evidently by the unskilled hands of surviving 
friends and relatives. On some there were merely the 
initials of a name ; some were inscribed with misspelt 
prose or rhyme, in deep letters which the moss and wintry 
rain of many years had not been able to obliterate. These, 
these were graves where loved ones slept. It is an old 
theme of satire, the falsehood and vanity of monumental 
eulogies ; but when aftection and sorrow grave the letters 
with their own painful labor, then we may be sure that 
they copy from the record on their hearts. 

My acquaintance the sculptor — he may share that title 
with Greenough, since the dauber of signs is a painter as 
well as Kaphael — had found a ready market for all his 
blank slabs of marble and full occupation in lettering and 
ornamenting them. He was an elderly man, a descendant 
of the old Puritan family of Wigglesworth, with a certain 
simplicity and singleness both of heart and mind which, 
methinks, is more rarely found among us Yankees than in 
any other community of people. In spite of his gray head 
and wrinkled brow, he was quite like a child in all matters 
save what had some reference to his own business; he 
geemed, unless my fancy misled me, to view mankind in no 


other relation than as people in want of tombstones, and 
his literary attainments evidently comprehended very little 
either of prose or poetry which had not at one time or 
other been inscribed on slate or marble. His sole task and 
office among the immortal pilgrims of the tomb — the duty 
for which Providence had sent the old man into the world, 
as it were with a chisel in his hand — was to label the dead 
bodies, lest their names should be forgotten at the resurrec- 
tion. Yet he had not failed, within a narrow scope, to 
gather a few sprigs of earthly, and more than earthly, wis- 
dom — the harvest of many a grave. And, lugubrious as 
his calling might appear, he was as cheerful an old soul as 
health and integrity and lack of care could make him, and 
used to set to work upon one sorrowful inscription or 
another with that sort of spirit which impels a man to sing 
at his labor. On the whole, I found Mr. Wigglesworth an 
entertaining, and often instructive, if not an interesting, 
character; and, partly for the charm of his society, and 
still more because his work has an invariable attraction for 
" man that is born of woman," I was accustomed to spend 
some hours a day at his workshop. The quaintness of his 
remarks and their not infrequent truth — a truth condensed 
and pointed by the limited sphere of his view — gave a 
raciness to his talk which mere worldliness and general cul- 
tivation would at once have destroyed. 

Sometimes we would discuss the respective merits of the 
various qualities of marble, numerous slabs of which were 
resting against the walls of the shop, or sometimes an hour 
or two would pass quietly without a word on either side 
while I watched how neatly his chisel struck out letter 
after letter of the names of the Nortons, the Mayhews, the 
Luces, the Daggets, and other immemorial families of the 
Vineyard. Often with an artist's pride the good old sculp- 
tor would speak of favorite productions of his skill which 
were scattered throughout the village graveyards of New 
England. But my chief and most instructive amusement 


was to witness his interviews with his customers, who held 
interminable consultations about the form and fashion of 
the desired monuments, the buried excellence to be com- 
memorated, the anguish to be expressed, and finally the 
lowest price in dollars and cents for which a marble tran- 
script of their feelings might be obtained. Really, my 
mind received many fresh ideas which perhaps may remain 
in it even longer than Mr. Wigglesworth's hardest marble 
will retain the deepest strokes of his chisel. 

An elderly lady came to bespeak a monument for her 
first love, who had been killed by a whale in the Pacific 
Ocean no less than forty years before. It was singular that 
so strong an impression of early feeling should have sur- 
vived through the changes of her subsequent life, in the 
course of which she had been a wife and a mother, and, so 
far as I could judge, a comfortable and happy woman. Re- 
flecting within myself, it appeared to me that this lifelong 
sorrow — as, in all good faith, she deemed it — was one of the 
most fortunate circumstances of her history. It had given 
an ideality to her mind ; it had kept her purer and less 
earthy than she would otherwise have been by drawing a 
portion of her sympathies apart from earth. Amid the 
throng of enjoyments and the pressure of worldly care and 
all the warm materialism of this life she had communed 
with a vision, and had been the better for such intercourse. 
Faithful to the husband of her maturity, and loving him 
with a far more real affection than she ever could have felt 
for this dream of her girlhood, there had still been an 
imaginative faith to the ocean-buried ; so that an ordinary 
character had thus been elevated and refined. Her sighs 
had been the breath of Heaven to her soul. The good 
lady earnestly desired that the proposed monument should 
be ornamented with a carved border of marine plants in- 
terwined with twisted sea-shells, such as were probably 
waving over her lover's skeleton or strewn around it in the 
far depths of the Pacific. But, Mr. Wigglesworth's chisel 


being inadequate to the task, she was forced to content 
herself with a rose hanging its head from a broken stem. 

After her departure I remarked that the symbol was 
none of the most apt. 

"And yet," said my friend the sculptor, embodying in 
this image the thoughts that had been passing through my 
own mind, " that broken rose has shed its sweet smell 
through forty years of the good woman's life." 

It was seldom that I could find such pleasant food for 
contemplation as in the above instance. None of the ap- 
plicants, I think, affected me more disagreeably than an old 
man who came, with his fourth wife hanging on his arm, to 
bespeak gravestones for the three former occupants of his 
marriage-bed. I watched with some anxiety to see whether 
his remembrance of either were more affectionate than of 
the other two, but could discover no symj^tom of the kind. 
The three monuments were all to be of the same material 
and form, and each decorated in bas-relief with two weep- 
ing willows, one of these sympathetic trees bending over 
its fellow, which was to be broken in the midst and rest 
upon a sepulchral urn. This, indeed, was Mr. Wiggles- 
worth's standing emblem of conjugal bereavement. I shud- 
dered at the gray polygamist who had so utterly lost the 
holy sense of individuality in wedlock that methought he 
was fain to reckon upon his fingers how many women who 
had once slept by his side were now sleeping in their graves. 
There was even — if I wrono; him, it is no a:reat matter — a 
glance sidelong at his living spouse, as if he were inclined 
to drive a thriftier bargain by bespeaking four gravestones 
in a lot. 

I was better pleased with a rough old whaling-captain 
who gave directions for a broad marble slab divided into 
two compartments, one of which was to contain an epitaph 
on his deceased wife and the other to be left vacant till 
death should engrave his own name there. As is frequently 
the case among the whalers of Martha's Vineyard, so much 


of this storm-beaten widower's life had been tossed away on 
distant seas that out of twenty years of matrimony he had 
spent scarce three, and those at scattered intervals, beneath 
his own roof Thus the wife of his youth, though she died 
in his and her declining age, retained the bridal dewdrops 
fresh around her memory. 

My observations gave me the idea, and Mr. Wigglesworth 
confirmed it, that husbands were more faithful in setting up 
memorials to their dead wives than widows to their dead 
husbands. I was not ill-natured enough to fancy that 
women less than men feel so sure of their own constancy as 
to be willing to give a pledge of it in marble. It is more 
probably the fact that, while men are able to reflect upon 
their lost companions as remembrances apart from them- 
selves, women, on the other hand, are conscious that a por- 
tion of their being has gone with the departed whithersoever 
he has gone. Soul clings to soul, the living dust has a sym- 
pathy with the dust of the grave ; and by the very strength 
of that sympathy the wife of the dead shrinks the more sen- 
sitively from reminding the world of its existence. The link 
is already strong enough ; it needs no visible symbol. And, 
though a shadow walks ever by her side and the touch of a 
chill hand is on her bosom, yet life, and perchance its nat- 
ural yearnings, may still be warm within her and inspire 
her with new hopes of happiness. Then would she mark 
out the grave the scent of which would be perceptible on 
the pillow of the second bridal ? No, but rather level its 
green mound with the surrounding earth, as if, when she 
dug up again her buried heart, the spot had ceased to be a 

Yet, in spite of these sentimentalities, I was prodigiously 
amused by an incident of which I had not the good-fortune 
to be a witness, but which Mr. Wiggles^vorth related with 
considerable humor. A gentlewoman of the town, receiving 
news of her husband's loss at sea, had bespoken a handsome 
slab of marble, and came daily to watch the progress of my 


friend's chisel. One afternoon, when the good lady and the 
sculptor were in the very midst of the epitaph — which the 
departed spirit might have been greatly comforted to read 
— who should walk into the workshop but the deceased 
himself, in substance as well as spirit ! He had been picked 
up at sea, and stood in no present need of tombstone or 

'•'And how," inquired I, " did his wife bear the shock of 
joyftil surprise?" 

" Why," said the old man, deepening the grin of a death's- 
head on which his chisel was just then employed, " I really 
felt for the poor woman ; it was one of my best pieces of 
marble — and to be thrown away on a living man !" 

A comely woman with a pretty rosebud of a daughter 
came to select a gravestone for a twin-daughter, who had 
died a month before. I was impressed with the different 
nature of their feelings for the dead. The mother was calm 
and woefully resigned, fully conscious of her loss, as of a 
treasure which she had not always possessed, and therefore 
had been aware that it might be taken from her ; but the 
daughter evidently had no real knowledge of what Death's 
doings were. Her thoughts knew, but not her heait. It 
seemed to me that by the print and pressure which the dead 
sister had left upon the survivor's spirit her feelings were 
almost the same as if she still stood side by side and arm in 
arm with the departed, looking at the slabs of marble, and 
once or twice she glanced around with a sunny smile, which, 
as its sister-smile had faded for ever, soon grew confusedly 
overshadowed. Perchance her consciousness was truer than 
her reflection ; perchance her dead sister was a closer com- 
panion than in life. 

The mother and daughter talked a long while with Mr. 
Wigglesworth about a suitable epitaph, and finally chose 
an ordinary verse of ill-matched rhymes which had already 
been inscribed upon innumerable tombstones. But when 
we ridicule the triteness of monumental verses, we forget 


that Sorrow reads far deeper in them than we can, and finds 
a profound and individual purport in what seems so vague 
and inexpressive unless interpreted by her. She makes the 
epitaph anew, though the selfsame words may have served 
for a thousand graves. 

"And yet," said I afterward to ^Ir. Wigglesworth, " they 
might have made a better choice than this. While you 
were discussing the subject I was struck by at least a dozen 
simple and natural expressions from the lips of both mother 
and daughter. One of these would have formed an inscrip- 
tion equally original and appropriate." 

"No, no!" replied the sculptor, shaking his head; "there 
is a good deal of comfort to be gathered from these little 
old scraps of poetry, and so I always recommend them in 
preference to any new-fangled ones. And somehow they 
seem to stretch to suit a great grief and shrink to fit a 
small one." 

It was not seldom that ludicrous images were excited by 
what took place between Mr. Wigglesworth and his custom- 
ers. A shrewd gentlewoman who kept a tavern in the town 
was anxious to obtain two or three gravestones for the de- 
ceased members of her family, and to pay for these solemn 
commodities by taking the sculptor to board. Hereupon a 
fantasy arose in jny mind of good Mr. Wigglesworth sitting 
down to dinner at a broad, flat tombstone carving one of 
his own plump little marble cherubs, gnawing a pair of 
crossbones and drinking out of a hollow death's-head or 
perhaps a lachrymatory vase or sepulchral urn, while his 
hostess's dead children waited on him at the ghastly ban- 
quet. On communicating this nonsensical picture to the 
old man he laughed heartily and pronounced my humor to 
be of the right sort. 

^ " I have lived at such a table all my days," said he, " and 
eaten no small quantity of slate and marble." 

" Hard fare," rejoined I, smiling, " but you seemed to 
have found it excellent of digestion, too." 


A man of fifty or thereabouts with a harsh, uapleasant 
countenance ordered a stone for the grave of his bitter 
enemy, with whom he had waged warfare half a lifetime, to 
their mutual misery and ruin. The secret of this phenom- 
enon was that hatred had become the sustenance and enjoy- 
ment of the poor wretch's soul ; it had supplied the place 
of all kindly affections ; it had been really a bond of sym- 
pathy between himself and the man who shared the passion ; 
and when its object died, the unappeasable foe was the only 
mourner for the dead. He expressed a purpose of being 
buried side by side with his enemy. 

" I doubt whether their dust will mingle," remarked the 
old sculptor to me ; for often there was an earthliness in 
his conceptions. 

" Oh yes," replied I, who had mused long upon the inci- 
dent ; " and when they rise again, these bitter foes may find 
themselves dear friends. Methinks what they mistook for 
hatred was but love under a mask." 

A gentleman of antiquarian propensities provided a me- 
morial for an Indian of Chabbiquidick — one of the few of 
untainted blood remaining in that region, and said to be a 
hereditary chieftain descended from the sachem who wel- 
comed Governor Mayhew to the Vineyard. Mr. Wiggles- 
worth exerted his best skill to carve a broken bow and scat- 
tered sheaf of arrows in memory of the hunters and war- 
riors whose race was ended here, but he likewise sculptured 
a cherub, to denote that the poor Indian had shared the 
Christian's hope of immortality. 

" Why," observed I, taking a perverse view of the winged 
bov and the bow and arrows, " it looks more like Cupid's 
tomb than an Indian chief's." 

" You talk nonsense," said the sculptor, with the offended 
pride of art. He then added with his usual good-nature, 
" How can Cupid die when there are such pretty maidens in 
the Vineyard ?" 


" Very true," answered I ; and for the rest of the day I 
thought of other matters than tombstones. 

At our next meeting I found him chiselling an open book 
upon a marble headstone, and concluded that it was meant 
to express the erudition of some black-letter clergyman of 
the Cotton Mather school. It turned out, however, to be 
emblematical of the scriptural knowledge of an old woman 
who had never read anything but her Bible, and the monu- 
ment was a tribute to her piety and good works from the 
orthodox church of which she had been a member. In 
strange contrast with this Christian woman's memorial was 
that of an infidel whose gravestone, by his own direction, 
bore an avowal of his belief that the spirit within him 
would be extinguished like a flame, and that the nothing- 
ness whence he sprang would receive him again. 

Mr. Wigglesworth consulted me as to the propriety of 
enabling a dead man's dust to utter this dreadful creed. 

" If I thought," said he, " that a single mortal would read 
the inscription without a shudder, my chisel should never 
cut a letter of it. But when the grave speaks such false- 
hoods, the soul of man will know the truth by its own 

" So it wdll," said I, struck by the idea. " The poor infi- 
del may strive to preach blasphemies from his grave, but 
it will be only another method of impressing the soul with 
a consciousness of immortality." 

There was an old man by the name of Norton^ noted 
throughout the island for his great wealth, which he had 
accumulated by the exercise of strong and shrewd faculties 
combined with a most penurious disposition. This wretched 
piiser, conscious that he had not a friend to be mindful of 
him in his grave, had himself taken the needful precautions 
for posthumous remembrance by bespeaking an immense 
elab of white marble with a long epitaph in raised letters, 
the whole to be as magnificent as Mr. Wigglesworth's skill 
could make it. There was something very characteristic in 


this contrivance to have his money's worth even from his 
own tombstone, which, indeed, afforded him more enjoy- 
ment in the few months that ke lived thereafter than it 
probably will in a whole century, now that it is laid over 
his bones. 

This incident reminds me of a young girl — a pale, slender, 
feeble creature most unlike the other rosy and healthful 
damsels of the Vineyard, amid whose brightness she was 
fading away. Day after day did the poor maiden come to 
the sculptor's shop and pass from one piece of marble to an- 
other, till at last she pencilled her name upon a slender slab 
which, I think, was of a more spotless white than all the 
rest. I saw her no more, but soon afterward found Mr. 
Wigglesworth cutting her virgin-name into the stone which 
she had chosen. 

" She is dead, poor girl !" said he, interrupting the tune 
which he was whistling, " and she chose a good piece of 
stuff for her headstone. Now, which of these slabs would 
you like best to see your own name upon ?" 

" Why, to tell you the truth, my good Mr. Wigglesworth," 
replied I, after a moment's pause, for the abruptness of the 
question had somewhat startled me — " to be quite sincere 
with you, I care little or nothing about a stone for my own 
grave, and am somewhat inclined to scepticism as to the 
propriety of erecting monuments at all over the dust that 
once was human. The weight of these heavy marbles, 
though unfelt by the dead corpse or the enfranchised soul, 
presses drearily upon the spirit of the survivor and causes 
him to connect the idea of death with the dungeon-like im- 
prisonment of the tomb, instead of with the freedom of the 
skies. Every gravestone that you ever made is the visible 
symbol of a mistaken system. Our thoughts should soar 
upward with the butterfly, not linger with the exuviae that 
confined him. In truth and reason, neither those whom vre 
call the living, and still less the departed, have anything to 
do with the grave." 


" I never heard anything so heathenish," said Mr. Wig- 
glesworth, perplexed and displeased at sentiments which 
controverted all his notions and feelings and implied the 
utter waste, and worse, of his whole life's labor. " Would 
you forget your dead friends the moment they are under 
the sod?" 

" They are not under the sod," I rejoined ; " then why 
should I mark the spot where there is no treasure hidden ? 
Forget them ? No ; but, to remember them aright, I would 
forget what they have cast off. And to gain the truer con- 
ception of death I would forget the grave." 

But still the good old sculptor murmured, and stumbled, 
as it were, over the gravestones amid which he had walked 
through life. Whether he were right or wrong, I had grown 
the wiser from our companionship and from my observations 
of nature and character as displayed by those who came, 
with their old griefs or their new ones, to get them recorded 
upon his slabs of marble. And yet with my gain of wis- 
dom I had likewise gained perplexity ; for there was a 
strange doubt in my mind whether the dark shadowing of 
this life, the sorrows and regrets, have not as much real 
comfort in them^— leaving religious influences out of the 
question — as what we term life's joys. 


One day, in the sick-chamber of Father Ephraim, who 
had been forty years the presiding elder over the Shaker 
settlement at Goshen, there was an assemblage of several 
of the chief men of the sect. Individuals had come from 
the rich establishment at Lebanon, from Canterbury, Har- 
vard and Alfred, and from all the other localities where 
this strange people have fertilized the rugged hills of New 
England by their systematic industry. An elder was like- 
wise there who had made a pilgrimage of a thousand miles 
from a village of the faithful in Kentucky to visit his spir- 
itual kindred the children of the sainted Mother Ann. He 
had partaken of the homely abundance of their tables, had 
quaffed the far-famed Shaker cider, and had joined in the 
sacred dance every step of which is believed to alienate 
the enthusiast from earth and bear him onward to heavenly 
purity and bliss. His brethren of the North had now 
courteously invited him to be present on an occasion when 
the concurrence of every eminent member of their commu- 
nity was peculiarly desirable. 

The venerable Father Ephraim sat in his easy-chair, not 
only hoary-headed and infirm with age, but worn down by 
a lingering disease which it was evident would very soon 
transfer his patriarchal staff to other hands. At his foot- 
stool stood a man and woman, both clad in the Shaker garb. 

" My brethren," said Father Ephraim to the surrounding 
elders, feebly exerting himself to utter these few words, 
" here are the son and daughter to whom I would commit 



the trust of which Providence is about to lighten my weary 
shoulders. Read their faces, I pray you, and say whether 
the inward movement of the spirit hath guided my choice 

Accordingly, each elder looked at the two candidates 
with a most scrutinizing gaze. The man — ^whose name was 
Adam Colburn — had a face sunburnt with labor in the fields, 
yet intelligent, thoughtful and traced with cares enough for 
a whole lifetime, though he had barely reached middle age. 
There was something severe in his aspect and a rigidity 
throughout his person — characteristics that caused him gen- 
erally to be taken for a schoolmaster ; which vocation, in 
fact, he had formerly exercised for several years. The 
woman, Martha Pierson, was somewhat above thirty, thin 
and pale, as a Shaker sister almost invariably is, and not 
entirely free from that corpse-like appearance which the 
garb of the sisterhood is so well calculated to impart. 

" This pair are still in the summer of their years," ob- 
served the elder from Harvard, a shrewd old man. " I 
would like better to see the hoar-frost of autumn on their 
heads. Methinks, also, they will be exposed to peculiar 
temptations on account of the carnal desires which have 
heretofore subsisted between them." 

" Nay, brother," said the elder from Canterbury ; " the 
hoar-frost and the black frost hath done its work on Brother 
Adam and Sister Martha, even as we sometimes discern its 
traces in our cornfields while they are yet green. And why 
should we question the wisdom of our venerable Father's 
purpose, although this pair in their early youth have loved 
one another as the world's j^eople love? Are there not 
many brethren and sisters among us who have lived long 
together in wedlock, yet, adopting our faith, find their 
hearts purified from all but spiritual affection?" 

Whether or no the early loves of Adam and Martha had 
rendered it inexpedient that they should now preside to- 
gether over a Shaker vUlage, it was certainly most singular 


that sucli sliould be the final result of many warm and ten- 
der hopes. Children of neighboring families, their affection 
was older even than their school-days ; it seemed an innate 
principle interfused among all their sentiments and feelings, 
and not so much a distinct remembrance as connected with 
their whole volume of remembrances. But just as they 
reached a proper age for their union misfortunes had fallen 
heavily on both and made it necessary that they should re- 
sort to personal labor for a bare subsistence. Even under 
these circumstances Martha Pierson would probably have 
consented to unite her fate with Adam Colbum's, and, se- 
cure of the bliss of mutual love, would patiently have 
awaited the less important gifts of Fortune. But Adam, 
being of a cabn and cautious character, was loth to relin- 
quish the advantages v.hich a single man possesses for rais- 
ing himself in the world. Year after year, therefore, their 
marriage had been deferred. 

Adam Colbum had followed many vocations, had trav- 
elled far and seen much of the world and of life. Martha 
had earned her bread sometimes as a sempstress, sometimes 
as help to a farmer's wife, sometimes as schoolmistress of 
the village children, sometimes as a nurse or watcher of the 
sick, thus acquiring a varied experience the ultimate use of 
which she little anticipated. But nothing had gone pros- 
perously with either of the lovers ; at no subsequent mo- 
ment would matrimony have been so prudent a measure as 
when they had first parted, in the opening bloom of life, to 
seek a better fortune. Still, they had held fast their mu- 
tual faith. Martha might have been the wife of a man who 
sat among the senators of his native State, and Adam could 
have won the hand, as he had unintentionally won the 
heart, of a rich and comely widow. But neither of them 
desired good-fortune save to share it with the other. 

At length that calm despair which occurs only in a strong 
and somewhat stubborn character and yields to no second 
spring of hope settled down on the spirit of Adam Colburn. 


He sought an interview with Martha and proposed that they 
should join the Society of Shakers. The converts of this 
sect are oftener driven within its hospitable gates by worldly 
misfortune than drawn thither by fanaticism, and are re- 
ceived without inquisition as to their motives. Martha, 
faithful still, had placed her hand in that of her lover and 
accompanied him to the Shaker village. Here the natural 
capacity of each, cultivated and strengthened by the diffi- 
culties of their previous lives, had soon gained them an im- 
portant rank in the society, whose members are generally 
below the ordinary standard of intelligence. Their faith 
and feelings had in some degree become assimilated to those 
of their fellow-worshippers. Adam Colburn gradually ac- 
quired reputation not only in the management of the tem- 
poral affairs of the society, but as a clear and efficient 
preacher of their doctrines. Martha was not less distin- 
guished in the duties proper to her sex. Finally, when the 
infirmities of Father Ephraim had admonished him to seek 
a successor in his patriarchal office, he thought of Adam 
and Martha, and proposed to renew in their persons the 
primitive form of Shaker government as established by 
Mother Ann. They were to be the father and mother of 
the village. The simple ceremony which would constitute 
them such was now to be performed. 

" Son Adam and daughter Martha," said the venerable 
Father Ephraim, fixing his aged eyes piercingly upon them, 
** if ye can conscientiously undertake this charge, speak, that 
the brethren may not doubt of your fitness." 

" Father," replied Adam, speaking with the calmness of 
his character, " I came to your village a disappointed man, 
weary of the world, worn out with continual trouble, seek- 
ing only a security against evil fortune, as I had no hope of 
good. Even my wishes of worldly success were almost dead 
within me. I came hither as a man might come to a tomb 
willing to lie down in its gloom and coldness for the sake 
of its peace and quiet. There was but one earthly affection 


in my breast, and it had grown calmer since my youth ; so 
that I was satisfied to bring Martha to be my sister in our 
new abode. AVe are brother and sister, nor would I have 
it otherwise. And in this peaceful village I have found all 
that I hope for — all that I desire. I will strive with my 
best strength for the spiritual and temporal good of our 
community. My conscience is not doubtful in this matter. 
I am ready to receive the trust." 

"Thou hast spoken well, son Adam," said the father. 
" God will bless thee in the office which I am about to 

"But our sister," observed the elder from Harvard. 
"Hath she not likewise a gift to declare her sentiments?" 

Martha started and moved her lips as if she would have 
made a formal reply to this appeal. But, had she attempted 
it, perhaps the old recollections, the long-repressed feelings 
of childhood, youth and womanhood, might have gushed 
from her heart in words that it would have been profana- 
tion to utter there. 

"Adam has spoken," said she, hurriedly; "his sentiments 
are likewise mine." 

But while speaking these few words Martha grew so pale 
that she looked fitter to be laid in her cofiin than to stand 
in the presence of Father Ephraim and the elders ; she 
shuddered, also, as if there were something awful or horri- 
ble in her situation and destiny. It required, indeed, a 
more than feminine strength of nerve to sustain the fixed 
observance of men so exalted and famous throughout the 
sect as these were. They had overcome their natural sym- 
pathy with human frailties and afifections. One, when he 
joined the society, had brought with him his wife and chil- 
dren, but never from that hour had spoken a fond word to 
the former or taken his best-loved child upon his knee. 
Another, whose family refused to follow him, had been en- 
abled — such was his gift of holy fortitude — to leave them 
to the mercy of the world. The youngest of the elders, a 


man of about fifty, had been bred from infancy in a Shaker 
village, and was said never to have clasped a woman's hand 
in his own, and to have no conception of a closer tie than 
the cold fraternal one of the sect. Old Father Ephraini 
was the most a-wful character of all. In his youth he had 
been a dissolute libertine, but was converted by Mother 
Ann herself, and had partaken of the wild fanaticism of 
the early Shakers. Tradition whispered at the firesides of 
the village that Mother Ann had been compelled to sear 
his heart of flesh with a red-hot iron before it could be puri- 
fied from earthly passions. 

However that might be, poor Martha had a woman's 
heart, and a tender one, and it quailed' within her as she 
looked round at those strange old men, and from them to 
the calm features of Adam Colbum. But, perceiving that 
the elders eyed her doubtfully, she gasped for breath and 
again spoke. 

" With what strength is left me by my many troubles," 
said she, " I am ready to undertake this charge, and to do 
my best in it." 

" My children, join your hands," said Father Ephraim. 

They did so. The elders stood up around, and the father 
feebly raised himself to a more erect position, but continued 
sitting in his great chair. 

" I have bidden you to join your hands," said he, " not 
in earthly affection, for ye have cast ofi* its chains for ever, 
but as brother and sister in spiritual love and helpers of one 
another in your allotted task. Teach unto others the faith 
which ye have received. Open wide your gates — I deliver 
you the keys thereof — open them wide to all who will give 
up the iniquities of the world and come hither to lead lives 
of purity and peace. Receive the weary ones who have 
known the vanity of earth ; receive the little children, that 
they may never learn that miserable lesson. And a blessing 
be upon your labors ; so that the time may hasten on when 
the mission of Mother Ann shaU have wrought its full efiect. 


when children shall no more be born and die, and the last 
survivor of mortal race — some old and Aveary man like me 
— shall see the sun go down nevermore to rise on a world 
of sin and sorrow." 

The aged father sank back exhausted, and the surround- 
ing elders deemed, with good reason, that the hour was come 
when the new heads of the village must enter on their pa- 
triarchal duties. In their attention to Father Ephraim 
their eyes were turned from Martha Pierson, who grew paler 
and paler, unnoticed even by Adam Colburn. He, indeed, 
had withdrawn his hand from hers and folded his arms 
with a sense of satisfied ambition. But paler and paler grew 
Martha by his side, till, like a corpse in its burial-clothes, 
she sank down at the feet of her early lover ; for, after many 
trials firmly borne, her heart could endure the weight of its 
desolate agony no longer. 



Pleasant is a rainy winter's day witliin-doors. The 
best study for such a day — or the best amusement : call it 
what you will — is a book of travels describing scenes the 
most unlike that sombre one which is mistily presented 
through the windows. I have experienced that Fancy is 
then most successful in imparting distinct shapes and 
vivid colors 'to the objects which the author has spread 
upon his page, and that his words become magic spells to 
summon up a thousand varied pictures. Strange landscapes 
glimmer through the familiar walls of the room, and out- 
landish figures thrust themselves almost within the sacred 
precincts of the hearth. Small as my chamber is, it has 
space enough to contain the ocean-like circumference of an 
Arabian desert, its parched sands tracked by the long line 
of a caravan with the camels patiently journeying through 
the heavy sunshine. Though my ceiling be not lofty, yet 
I can pile up the mountains of Central Asia beneath it till 
their summits shine far above the clouds of the middle 
atmosphere. And with my humble means — a wealth that 
is not taxable — I can transport hither the magnificent mer- 
chandise of an Oriental bazaar, and call a crowd of pur- 
chasers from distant countries to pay a fair profit for the 
precious articles which are displayed on all sides. True it 
is, however, that amid the bustle of trafl[ic, or whatever 
else may seem to be going on around me, the raindrops 


'will occasionally be heard to patter against my "windoT,-- 
panes, which look forth upon one of the quietest streets in 
a New England town. After a time, too, the visions 
vanish, and will not appear again at my bidding. Then, 
it being nightfall, a gloomy sense of unreality depresses my 
spirits, and impels me to venture out before the clock shall 
strike bedtime to satisfy myself that the world is not en- 
tirely made up of such shadowy materials as have busied 
me throughout the day. A dreamer may dwell so long 
among fantasies that the things without him will seem as 
unreal as those wdthin. 

When eve has fairly set in, therefore, I sally forth, 
tightly buttoning my shaggy overcoat and hoisting my 
umbrella, the silken dome of which immediately resounds 
with the heavy drumming of the invisible raindrops. 
Pausing on the lowest doorstep, I contrast the warmth and 
cheerfulness of my deserted fireside with the drear obscurity 
and chill discomfort into which I am about to plunge. 
Now come fearful auguries innumerable as the drops of 
rain. Did not my manhood cry shame upon me, I should 
turn back within-doors, resume my elbow-chair, my slippers 
and my book, pass such an evening of sluggish enjoyment 
as the day has been, and go to bed inglorious. The same 
shivering reluctance, no doubt, has quelled for a moment 
the adventurous spirit of many a traveller when his feet, 
which were destined to measure the earth around, were leav- 
ing their last tracks in the home-paths. 

In my own case poor human nature may be allowed a 
few misgivings. I look upward and discern no sky, not 
even an unfathomable void, but only a black, impenetrable 
nothingness, as though heaven and all its lights were 
blotted from the system of the universe. It is as if Nature 
were dead and the world had put on black and the clouds 
were weeping for her. With their tears upon my cheek 
I turn my eyes earthward, but find little consolation here 
below. A lamp is burning dimly at the distant corner, and 


throws just enougli of light along the street to show, and 
exaggerate by so faintly showing, the perils and difficulties 
which beset my path. Yonder dingily-white remnant of 
a huge snowbank, which will yet cumber the sidewalk till 
the latter days of March, over or through that wintry 
waste must I stride onward. Beyond lies a certain Slough 
of Despond, a concoction of mud and liquid filth, ankle- 
deep, leg-deep, neck-deep — in a word, of unknown bottom 
— on which the lamplight does not even glimmer, but 
which I have occasionally watched in the gradual growth 
of its horrors from morn till nightfall. Should I flounder 
into its depths, farewell to upper earth ! And hark ! how 
roughly resounds the roaring of a stream the turbulent 
career of which is partially reddened by the gleam of the 
lamp, but elsewhere brawls noisily through the densest 
gloom ! Oh, should I be swept away in fording that im- 
petuous and unclean torrent, the coroner will have a job 
with an unfortunate gentleman who would fain end his 
troubles anywhere but in a mud-puddle. 

Pshaw ! I will linger not another instant at arm's-length 
from these dim terrors, which grow more obscurely formi- 
dable the longer I delay to grapple ^vvith them. Now for the 
onset, and, lo ! with little damage save a dash of rain in the 
face and breast, a splash of mud high up the pantaloons 
and the left boot full of ice-cold water, behold me at the 
comer of the street. The lamp throws down a circle of 
red light around me, and twinkling onward from corner to 
corner I discern other beacons, marshalling my way to a 
brighter scene. But this is a lonesome and dreary spot. 
The tall edifices bid gloomy defiance to the storm with 
their blinds all closed, even as a man winks when he faces 
a spattering gust. How loudly tinkles the collected rain 
down the tin spouts ! The pufis of wind are boisterous, 
and seem to assail me from various quarters at once. I 
have often observed that this corner is a haunt and loiter- 
ing-place for those winds which have no work to do upon 


the deep dashing ships against our iron-bound shores, nor 
in the forest tearing up the sylvan giants with half a rood 
of soil at their vast roots. Here they amuse themselves 
with lesser freaks of mischiefl See, at this moment, how 
they assail yonder poor woman who is passing just within 
the verge of the lamplight ! One blast struggles for her 
umbrella and turns it wrong side outward, another whisks 
the cape of her cloak across her eyes, while a third takes 
most unwarrantable liberties with the lower part of her at- 
tire. Happily, the good dame is no gossamer, but a figure 
of rotundity and fleshly substance ; else would these aerial 
tormentors whirl her aloft like a witch upon a broomstick, 
and set her down, doubtless, in the filthiest kennel here- 

From hence I tread upon firm pavements into the centre 
of the town. Here there is almost as brilliant an illumina- 
tion as when some great victory has been won either on the 
battlefield or at the polls. Two rows of shops with windows 
down nearly to the ground cast a glow from side to side, 
while the black night hangs overhead like a canopy, and 
thus keeps the splendor from difflising itself away. The 
wet sidewalks gleam with a broad sheet of red light. The 
raindrops glitter as if the sky were pouring down rubies. 
The spouts gush with fire. Methinks the scene is an em- 
blem of the deceptive glare which mortals throw around 
their footsteps in the moral world, thus bedazzling them- 
selves till they forget the impenetrable obscurity that hems 
them in, and that can be dispelled only by radiance from 

And, after all, it is a cheerless scene, and cheerless are 
the wanderers in it. Here comes one who has so long been 
familiar with tempestuous weather that he takes the blus- 
ter of the storm for a friendly greeting, as if it should 
say, " How fare ye, brother ?" He is a retired sea-captain 
wrapped in some nameless garment of the pea-jacket order, 
and is now laying his course toward the marine-insurax>ce 


office, there to spin yarns of gale and shipwreck with a crew 
cf old seadogs like himself. The blast will put in its word 
among their hoarse voices, and be understood by all of them. 
Kext I meet an unhappy slipshod gentleman with a cloak 
flung hastily over his shoulders, running a race with bois- 
terous winds and striving to glide between the drops of rain. 
Some domestic emergency or other has blown this miserable 
man from his warm fireside in quest of a doctor. See that 
little vagabond ! How carelesslv he has taken his stand 
right underneath a spout while staring at some object of 
curiosity in a shop-window ! Surely the rain is his native 
element ; he must have fallen with it from the clouds, as 
frogs are supposed to do. 

Here is a picture, and a pretty one — a young man and a 
girl, both enveloped in cloaks and huddled beneath the 
scanty protection of a cotton umbrella. She wears rubber 
overshoes, but he is in his dancing-pumps, and they are on 
their way no doubt, to some cotillon-party or subscription- 
ball at a dollar a head, refreshments included. Thus they 
struggle against the gloomy tempest, lured onward by a 
vision of festal splendor. But ah ! a most lamentable dis- 
aster I Bewildered by the red, blue and yellow meteors in 
an apothecary's window, they have stepped upon a slippery 
remnant of ice, and are precipitated into a confluence of 
swollen floods at the corner of two streets. Luckless lovers ! 
Were it my nature to be other than a looker-on in life, I 
would attempt your rescue. Since that may not be, I vow', 
should you be drowned, to weave such a pathetic story of 
your fate as shall call forth tears enough to drown you both 
anew. Do ye touch bottom, my young friends ? Yes ; they 
emerge like a w'ater-nymph and a river-deity, and paddle 
hand in hand out of the depths of the dark pool. They 
hurry homeward, dripping, disconsolate, abashed, but with 
love too warm to be chilled by the cold water. They have 
stood a test which proves too strong for many. Faithful 
though over head and ears in trouble ! 


Onward I go, deriving a sympatlietic joy or sorrow from 
the varied aspect of mortal affairs even as my figure catches 
a gleam from the lighted windows or is blackened by an in- 
terval of darkness. Not that mine is altogether a chame- 
leon spirit with no hue of its own. Now I pass into a more 
retired street where the dwellings of wealth and poverty 
are intermingled, presenting a range of strongly-contrasted 
pictures. Here, too, may be found the golden mean. 
Through yonder casement I discern a family circle — the 
grandmother, the parents and the children — all flickering, 
shadow-like, in the glow of a wood-fire. — Bluster, fierce 
blast, and beat, thou wintry rain, against the window-panes ! 
Ye cannot damp the enjoyment of that fireside. — Surely my 
fate is hard that I should be wandering homeless here, tak- 
ing to my bosom night and storm and solitude instead of 
wife and children. Peace, murmurer! Doubt not that 
darker guests are sitting round the hearth, though the 
warm blaze hides all but blissful images. 

Well, here is still a brighter scene — a stately mansion 
illuminated for a ball, with cut-glass chandeliers and ala- 
baster lamps in every room, and sunny landscapes hanging 
round the walls. See ! a coach has stopped, whence emerges 
a slender beauty who, canopied by two umbrellas, glides 
within the portal and vanishes amid lightsome thrills of 
music. Will she ever feel the night-wind and the rain? 
Perhaps — perhaps ! And will Death and Sorrow ever enter 
that proud mansion ? As surely as the dancers will be gay 
within its halls to-night. Such thoughts sadden yet satisfy 
my heart, for they teach me that the poor man in this mean, 
weatherbeaten hovel, without a fire to cheer him, may call 
the rich his brother — ^brethren by Sorrow, who must be an 
inmate of both their households ; brethren by Death, who 
"will lead them both to other homes. 

Onward, still onward, I plunge into the night. Now 
have I reached the utmost limits of the town, where the last 
lamp struggles feebly with the darkness like the farthest 



star that stands sentinel on the borders of uncreated space. 
It is strange what sensations of sublimity may spring from 
a very humble source. Such are suggested by this hollow 
roar of a subterranean cataract where the mighty stream 
of a kennel precipitates itself beneath an iron grate and is 
seen no more on earth. Listen a while to its voice of mys- 
tery, and Fancy will magnify it till you start and smile at 
the illusion. And now another sound — the rumbling of 
wheels as the mail-coach, outward bound, rolls heavily off 
the pavements and splashes through the mud and water of 
the road. All night long the poor passengers will be tossed 
to and fro between drowsy watch and troubled sleep, and 
will dream of their own quiet beds and awake to find them- 
selves still jolting onward. Happier my lot, who will 
straightway hie me to my familiar room and toast myself 
comfortably before the fire, musing and fitfully dozing and 
fancying a strangeness in such sights as all may see. But 
first let me gaze at this solitary figure who comes hither- 
ward with a tin lantern which throws the circular pattern 
of its punched holes on the ground about him. He passes 
fearlessly into the unknown gloom, whither I will not follow 

This figure shall supply me with a moral wherewith, for 
lack of a more appropriate one, I may wind up my sketch. 
He fears not to tread the dreary path before him, because 
his lantern, which was kindled at the fireside of his home, 
will light him back to that same fireside again. And thus 
we, night-wanderers through a stormy and dismal world, if 
we bear the lamp of Faith enkindled at a celestial fire, it 
will surely lead us home to that heaven whence its radiance 
was borrowed. 


At noon of an autumnal day more than two centuries 
ago the English colors were displayed by the standard- 
bearer of the Salem train-band, which had mustered for 
martial exercise under the orders of John Endicott. It 
was a period when the religious exiles were accustomed 
often to buckle on their armor and practise the handling of 
their weapons of war. Since the first settlement of New 
England its prospects had never been so dismal. The dis- 
sensions between Charles I. and his subjects were then, and 
for several years afterward, confined to the floor of Parlia- 
ment. The measures of the king and ministry were ren- 
dered more tyrannically violent by an opposition which had 
not yet acquired sufficient confidence in its own strength to 
resist royal injustice with the sword. The bigoted and 
haughty primate Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, con- 
trolled the religious afifairs of the realm, and was conse- 
quently invested with powers which might have wi'ought; 
the utter ruin of the two Puritan colonies, Plymouth and 
Massachusetts. There is evidence on record that our fore- 
fathers perceived their danger, but were resolved that their 
infant country should not fall without a struggle, even be- 
neath the giant strength of the king's right arm. 

Such was the aspect of the times when the folds of the 
English banner with the red cross in its field were flung out 
over a company of Puritans. Their leader, the famous En- 
dicott, was a man of stern and resolute countenance, the 
efiect of which was heightened by a grizzled beard that 



swept the upper portion of his breastplate. This piece of 
armor was so highly polished that the whole surrounding 
scene had its image in the glittering steel. The central ob- 
ject in the mirrored picture was an edifice of humble archi- 
tecture with neither steeple nor bell to proclaim it — what, 
nevertheless, it was — the house of prayer. A token of the 
perils of the wilderness was seen in the grim head of a wolf 
which had just been slain within the precincts of the town, 
and, according to the regular mode of claiming the bounty, 
was nailed on the porch of the meeting-house. The blood 
was still plashing on tlie doorstep. There happened to be 
visible at the same noontide hour so many other character- 
istics of the times and manners of the Puritans that we 
must endeavor to represent them in a sketch, though far 
less vividly than they were reflected in the polished breast- 
plate of John Endicott. 

In close vicinity to the sacred edifice appeared that im- 
portant engine of Puritanic authority the whipping-post, 
with the soil around it well trodden by the feet of evil-doers 
who had there been disciplined. At one corner of the 
meeting-house was the pillory and at the other the stocks, 
and, by a singular good fortune for our sketch, the head of 
an Episcopalian and suspected Catholic was 'grotesquely 
encased in the former machine, while a fellow-criminal who 
had boisterously quaffed a health to the king was confined 
by the legs in the latter. Side by side on the meeting-house 
steps stood a male and a female figure. The man was a tall, 
lean, haggard personification of fanaticism, bearing on his 
breast this label, "A Wanton Gospeller," which be- 
tokened that he had dared to give interpretations of Holy 
Writ unsanctioned by the infallible judgment of the civil 
and religious rulers. His aspect showed no lack of zeal to 
maintain his heterodoxies even at the stake. The woman 
wore a cleft stick on her tongue, in appropriate retributicn 
for having wagged that unruly member against the eldi-:3 
of the church, and her countenance and gestures gave much 



cause to apprehend that the moment the stick should be re- 
moved a repetition of the offence would demand new inge- 
nuity in chastising it. 

The above-mentioned individuals had been sentenced to 
undergo their various modes of ignominy for the space of 
one hour at noonday. But among the crowd were several 
whose punishment would be lifelong — some whose ears had 
been cropped like those of puppy-dogs, others whose cheeks 
had been branded with the initials of their misdemeanors ; 
one with his nostrils slit and seared, and another with a 
halter about his neck, which he was forbidden ever to take 
off or to conceal beneath his garments. Methinks he must 
have been grievously tempted to affix the other end of the 
rope to some convenient beam or bough. There was like- 
wise a young woman with no mean share of beauty whose 
doom it was to wear the letter A on the breast of her gown 
in the eyes of all the world and her own children. And 
even her own children knew what that initial signified. 
Sporting with her infamy, the lost and desperate creature 
had embroidered the fatal token in scarlet cloth with golden 
thread and the nicest art of needlework ; so that the capi- 
tal A might have been thought to mean "Admirable," or 
anything rather than "Adulteress." 

Let not the reader argue from any of these evidences 
of iniquity that the times of the Puritans were more vicious 
than our own, when as we pass along the very street of this 
sketch we discern no badge of infamy on man or woman. 
It was the policy of our ancestors to search out even the most 
secret sins and expose them to shame, without fear or favor, 
in the broadest light of the noonday sun. Were such the 
custom now, perchance we might find materials for a no less 
piquant sketch than the above. 

Except the malefactors whom we have described and the 
diseased or infirm persons, the whole male population of the 
town between sixteen years and sixty were seen in the ranks 
of the train-band. A few stately savages in all the pomp 


and dignity of the primeval Indian stood gazing at the 
spectacle. Their flint-headed arrows were but childish 
weapons, compared with the matchlocks of the Puritans, 
and would have rattled harmlessly against the steel caps 
and hammered iron breastplates which enclosed each soldier 
in an individual fortress. The valiant John Endicott 
glanced with an eye of pride at his sturdy followers, and 
prepared to renew the martial toils of the day. 

" Come, my stout hearts !" quoth he, drawing his sword. 
" Let us show these poor heathen that we can handle our 
Weapons like men of might. Well for them if they put us 
not to prove it in earnest !" 

The iron-breasted company straightened their line, and 
-each man drew the heavy butt of his matchlock close to his 
left foot, thus awaiting the orders of the captain. But as 
Endicott glanced right and left along the front he discov- 
ered a personage at some little distance with whom it be- 
hoved him to hold a parley. It was an elderly gentleman 
wearing a black cloak and band and a high-crowned hat 
beneath which was a velvet skull-cap, the whole being the 
garb of a Puritan minister. This reverend person bore a 
staff which seemed to have been recently cut in the forest, 
and his shoes were bemired, as if he had been travelling on 
foot through the swamps of the ^vilderness. His aspect was 
perfectly that of a pilgrim, heightened also by an apostolic 
dignity. Just as Endicott perceived him he laid aside his 
staff and stooped to drink at a bubbling fountain which 
gushed into the sunshine about a score of yards from the 
corner of the meeting-house. But ere the good man drank 
he turned his face heavenward in thankfulness, and then, 
holding back his gray beard with one hand, he scooped up 
his simple draught in the hollow of the other. 

" What ho, good Mr. Williams !" shouted Endicott. " You 
are welcome back again to our tovrn of peace. How does 
our w^orthy Governor Winthrop? And what news from 

EXDicoTT a:n^d the eed ckoss. 42S 

" The governor liatli his health, worshipful sir," answered 
Roger Williams, now resuming his staff and drawing near. 
"And, for the news, here is a letter which, knowing I was 
to travel hitherward to-day, Plis Excellency committed to 
my charge. Belike it contains tidings of much import, for 
a ship arrived yesterday from England." 

Mr. Williams, the minister of Salem, and of course known 
to all the spectators, had now reached the spot where Endi- 
cott was standing under the banner of his company, and put 
the governor's epistle into his hand. The broad seal was 
impressed with Winthrop's coat-of-arms. Endicott hastily 
unclosed the letter and began to read, while, as his eye 
passed down the page, a wrathful change came over his 
manly countenance. The blood glowed through it till it 
seemed to be kindling with an internal heat, nor was it un- 
natural to suppose that his breastplate would likewise be- 
come red hot with the angry fire of the bosom which it 
covered. Arriving at the conclusion, he shook the letter 
fiercely in his hand, so that it rustled as loud as the flag^ 
above his head. 

" Black tidings these, Mr. Williams," said he ; " blacker 
never came to New England. Doubtless you know their 
purport ?" 

" Yea, truly," replied Roger Williams, " for the governor 
consulted respecting this matter with my brethren in the 
ministry at Boston, and my opinion was likewise asked. 
And His Excellency entreats you by me that the news be 
not suddenly noised abroad, lest the people be stirred up 
unto some outbreak, and thereby give the king and the 
archbishop a handle against us." 

" The governor is a wise man — a wise man, and a meek 
and moderate," said Endicott, setting his teeth grimly. 
" Nevertheless, I must do according to my own best judg- 
ment. There is neither man, woman nor child in New Eng- 
land but has a concern as dear as life in these tidings ; and 
if John Endicott's voice be loud enough, man, woman and 


child shall hear them. — Soldiers, wheel into a hollow square, 
— Ho, good people ! Here are news for one and all of you.'' 

The soldiers closed in around their captain, and he and 
Roger Williams stood together under the banner of the red 
cross, while the women and the aged men pressed forward 
and the mothers held up their children to look Endicott in 
the face. A few taps of the drum gave signal for silence 
and attention. 

" Fellow-soldiers, fellow-exiles," began Endicott, speak- 
ing under strong excitement, yet powerfully restraining it, 
" wherefore did ye leave your native country ? AVherefore, 
I say, have we left the green and fertile fields, the cottages, 
or, perchance, the old gray halls, where we were born and 
bred, the churchyards where our forefathers lie buried ? 
Wherefore have we come hither to set up our own tomb- 
stones in a wilderness? A howling wilderness it is. The 
wolf and the bear meet us within halloo of our dwellings. 
The savage lieth in wait for us in the dismal shadow of the 
woods. The stubborn roots of the trees break our plough- 
shares when we would till the earth. Our children cry for 
bread, and we must dig in the sands of the seashore to sat- 
isfy them. Wherefore, I say again, have we sought this 
country of a rugged soil and wintry sky ? Was it not for 
the enjoyment of our civil rights ? AVas it not for liberty 
to worship God according to our conscience ?" 

" Call you this liberty of conscience ?" interrupted a 
voice on the steps of the meeting-house. 

It was the wanton gospeller. A sad and quiet smile flit- 
ted across the mild visage of Roger Williams, but Endicott, 
in the excitement of the moment, shook his sword wrath- 
fuUy at the culprit — an ominous gesture from a man like 

" What hast thou to do with conscience, thou knave ?" 
cried he. " I said liberty to worship God, not license to 
profane and ridicule him. Break not in upon my speech, 
or I will lay thee neck and heels till this time to-morrow. — • 


Hearken to me, friends, nor heed that accursed rhapsodist. 
As I was saying, we have sacrificed all things, and have 
come to a land whereof the Old World hath scarcely heard, 
that we might make a new world unto ourselves and pain- 
fdlly seek a path from hence to heaven. But what think 
ye now ? This son of a Scotch tyrant — this grandson of a 
papistical and adulterous Scotch woman whose death proved 
that a golden crown doth not always save an anointed head 
from the block — " 

" Nay, brother, nay," interposed Mr. Williams ; " thy 
words are not meet for a secret chamber, far less for a pub- 
lic street." 

" Hold thy peace, Roger Williams I" answered Endicott, 
imperiously. " JNIy spirit is wiser than thine for the busi- 
ness now in hand. — I tell ye, fellow-exiles, that Charles of 
England and Laud, our bitterest persecutor, arch-priest of 
Canterbury, are resolute to pursue us even hither. They 
are taking counsel, saith this letter, to send over a governor- 
general in whose breast shall be deposited all the law and 
equity of the land. They are minded, also, to establish the 
idolatrous forms of English episcopacy ; so that when Laud 
shall kiss the pope's toe as cardinal of Rome he may de- 
liver New England, bound hand and foot, into the power 
of his master." 

A deep groan from the auditors — a sound of wrath as 
well as fear and sorrow — responded to this intelligence. 

" Look ye to it, brethren," resumed Endicott, with in- 
creasing energy. " If this king and this arch-prelate have 
their will, we shall briefly behold a cross on the spire of 
this tabernacle which we have builded, and a high altar 
within its walls, with wax tapers burning round it at noon- 
day. We shall hear the sacring-bell and the voices of the 
Romish priests saying the mass. But think ye. Christian 
men, that these abominations may be suffered without a 
sword drawn, without a shot fired, without blood spilt — yea, 
on the \erj stairs of the pulpit ? No ! Be ye strong of 


hand and stout of heart. Here we stand on our own soilj 
which we have bought with our goods, which we have won 
with our swords, which we have cleared with our axes, 
which we have tilled with the sweat of our brows, which 
we have sanctified with our prayers to the God that brought 
us hither ! Who shall enslave us here ? What have we to 
do with this mitred prelate — with this crowned king ? What 
have we to do with England ?" 

Endicott gazed round at the excited countenances of the 
people, now full of his own spirit, and then turned suddenly 
to the standard-bearer, who stood close behind him. 

" Officer, lower your banner," said he. 

The officer obeyed, and, brandishing his sword, Endicott 
thrust it through the cloth and with his left hand rent the 
red cross completely out of the banner. He then waved 
the tattered ensign above his head. 

" Sacrilegious wretch I" cried the high-churchman in the 
pillory, unable longer to restrain himself; " thou hast re- 
jected the symbol of our holy religion." 

"Treason! treason!" roared the royalist in the stocks. 
""He hath defaced the king's banner!" 

" Before God and man I will avouch the deed," answered 
Endicott. — " Beat a flourish, drummer — shout, soldiers and 
people— in honor of the ensign of New England. Neither 
pope nor tyrant hath part in it now." 

With a cry of triumph the people gave their sanction to 
one of the boldest exploits which our history records. And 
for ever honored be the name of Endicott ! We look back 
through the mist of ages, and recognize in the rending of 
the red cross from New England's banner the first omen of 
that deliverance which our fathers consummated after the 
bones of the stern Puritan had lain more than a century in 
the dust. 



Two lovers once upon a time had planned a little 
summer-house in the form of an antique temple which it 
was their purpose to consecrate to all manner of refined 
and innocent enjoyments. There they would hold pleasant 
intercourse with one another and the circle of their familiar 
friends ; there they would give festivals of delicious fruit ; 
there they "svould hear lightsome music intermingled with 
the strains of pathos which make joy more sweet ; there 
they would read poetry and fiction and permit their own 
minds to flit away in day-dreams and romance ; there, in 
short — for why should we shape out the vague sunshine of 
their hopes ? — there all pure delights were to cluster like 
roses among the pillars of the edifice and blossom ever 
new and spontaneously. 

So one breezy and cloudless afternoon Adam Forrester 
and Lilias Fay set out uj^on a ramble over the wide estate 
which they were to possess together, seeking a proper site 
for their temple of happiness. They were themselves a fair 
and happy spectacle, fit priest and priestess for such a 
shrine, although, making poetry of the pretty name of 
Lilias, Adam Forrester was wont to call her "Lily" 
because her form was as fragile and her cheek almost as 
pale. As they passed hand in hand down the avenue of 
drooping elms that led from the portal of Lilias Fay's 



paternal mansion they seemed to glance like winged crea- 
tures through the strips of sunshine, and to scatter bright- 
ness "where the deep shadows fell. 

But, setting forth at the same time with this youthful 
pair, there was a dismal figure wrapped in a black velvet 
cloak that might have been made of a coffin-pall, and with 
a sombre hat such as mourners wear drooping its broad 
brim over his heavy brows. Glancing behind them, the 
lovers well knew who it was that followed, but wished from 
their hearts that he had been elsewhere, as being a compan- 
ion so strangely unsuited to their joyous errand. It was a 
near relative of Lilias Fay, an old man by the name of 
Walter Gascoigne, who had long labored under the burden 
of a melancholy spirit which was sometimes maddened into 
absolute insanity and always had a tinge of it. What a 
contrast between the young pilgrims of bliss and their un- 
bidden associate ! They looked as if moulded of heaven's 
sunshine and he of earth's gloomiest shade ; they flitted 
along like Hope and Joy roaming hand in hand through 
life, while his darksome figure stalked behind, a type of all 
the woeful influences which life could fling upon them. 

But the three had not gone far when they reached a spot 
that pleased the gentle Lily, and she paused. 

" What sweeter place shall we find than this ?" said she. 
" Why should we seek farther for the site of our temple T* 
It was indeed a delightful spot of earth, though undis- 
tinguished by any very prominent beauties, being merely 
a nook in the shelter of a hill, with the prospect of a dis- 
tant lake in one direction and of a church-spire in another. 
There were vistas and pathways leading onward and on- 
ward into the green woodlands and vanishing away in the 
glimmering shade. The temple, if erected here, would 
look toward the west; so that the lovers could shape all 
sorts of magnificent dreams out of the purple, violet and 
gold of the sunset sky, and few of their anticipated pleas- 
ures were dearer than this sport of fantasy. 


" Yes," said Adam Forrester ; " we miglit seek all day 
and find no lovelier spot. We will build our temple here." 

But their sad old companion, who had taken his stand 
on the very site which they proposed to cover with a marble 
fioor, shook his head and frowned, and the young man and 
the Lily deemed it almost enough to blight the spot and 
desecrate it for their airy temple that his dismal figure had 
thrown its shadow there. He pointed to some scattered 
stones, the remnants of a former structure, and to flowers 
such as young girls delight to nurse in their gardens, but 
which had now relapsed into the wild simplicity of nature. 

" Not here," cried old Walter Gascoigne. " Here, long 
ago, other mortals built their temple of happiness; seek 
another site for yours." 

" What !" exclaimed Lilias Fay. " Have any ever planned 
such a temple save ourselves ?" 

" Poor child !" said her gloomy kinsman. " In one shape 
or other every mortal has dreamed your dream." Then he 
told the lovers, how — not, indeed, an antique temple, but 
a dwelling — had once stood there, and that a dark-clad 
guest had dwelt among its inmates, sitting for ever at the 
fireside and poisoning all their household mirth. 

Under this type Adam Forrester and Lilias saw that the 
old man spake of sorrow. He told of nothing that might 
not be recorded in the history of almost every household, 
and yet his hearers felt as if no sunshine ought to fall 
upon a spot where human grief had left so deep a stain — 
or, at least, that no joyous temple should be built there. 

" This is very sad," said the Lily, sighing. 

"Well, there are lovelier spots than this," said Adam 
Forrester, soothingly — " spots which sorrow has not blight- 

So they hastened away, and the melancholy Gascoigne 
followed them^ looking as if he had gathered up all the 
gloom of the deserted spot and was bearing it as a burden 
of inestimable treasure. But still they rambled on, and 


soon found themselves in a rocky dell through the midst 
of which ran a streamlet with ripple and foam and a con- 
tinual voice of inarticulate joy. It was a wild retreat 
walled on either side with gray precipices which would 
have frowned somewhat too sternly had not a profusion 
of green shrubbery rooted itself into their crevices and 
wreathed gladsome foliage around their solemn brows. 
But the chief joy of the dell was in the little stream which 
seemed like the presence of a blissful child with nothing 
earthly to do save to babble merrily and disport itself, and 
make every living soul its playfellow, and throw the sunny 
gleams of its spirit upon all. 

"Here, here is the spot!" cried the two lovers, with one 
voice, as they reached a level space on the brink of a small 
cascade. " This glen was made on pui-pose for our tem- 

"And the glad song of the brook will be always in our 
ears," said Lilias Fay. 

"And its long melody shall sing the bliss of our lifetime," 
said Adam Forrester. 

" Ye must build no temple here," murmured their dismal 

And there again was the old lunatic standing just on the 
spot where they meant to rear their lightsome dome, and 
looking like the embodied symbol of some great woe that 
in forgotten days had happened there. And, alas ! there 
had been woe, nor that alone. A young man more than a 
hundred years before had lured hither a girl that loved him, 
and on this spot had murdered her and washed his bloody 
hands in the stream which sang so merrily, and ever since 
the victim's death-shrieks were often heard to echo between 
the cliffs. 

"And see !" cried old Gascoigne ; " is the stream yet pure 
from the stain of the m.urderer's hands ?" 

" Methinks it has a tinge of blood," faintly answered the 
liily ; and, being as slight as the gossamer, she trembled 


and clung to lier lover's arm, whispering, " Let us fiee from 
this dreadful vale." 

" Come, then," said Adam Forrester as cheerily "as he 
could ; " we shall soon find a happier spot." 

They set forth again, young pilgrims on that quest which 
millions — which every child of earth— has tried in turn. 

And were the Lily and her lover to be more fortunate 
than all those millions ? For a long time it seemed not so. 
The dismal shape of the old lunatic still glided behind them, 
and for every spot that looked lovely in their eyes he had 
some legend of human wrong or suffering so miserably sad 
that his auditors could never afterward connect the idea 
of joy "with the place where it had happened. Here a heart- 
broken woman kneeling to her child had been spurned 
from, his feet ; here a desolate old creature had prayed to 
the evil one, and had received a fiendish malignity of soul 
in answer to her prayer ; here a new-born infant, sweet 
blossom of life, had been found dead with the impress of 
its mother's fingers round its throat; and here, under a 
shattered oak, two lovers had been stricken by lightning 
and fell blackened corpses in each other's arms. The dreary 
Gascoigne had a gift to know whatever evil and lamentable 
thing had stained the bosom of Mother Earth ; and when 
his funereal voice had told the tale, it appeared like a proph- 
ecy of future woe as well as a tradition of the past. And 
now, by their sad demeanor, you would have fancied that 
the pilgrim-lovers were seeking, not a temple of earthly joy, 
but a tomb for themselves and their posterity. 

" Where in this world," exclaimed Adam Forrester, de- 
spondingly, " shall we build our temple of happiness ?" 

" Where in this world, indeed ?" repeated Lilias Fay ; and, 
being faint and weary — the more so by the heaviness of her 
heart — the Lily drooped her head and sat down on the 
summit of a knoll, repeating, " Where in this world shall 
We build our temple ?" 

"Ah i have you already asked yourselves that question ?" 


said their companion, his shaded features growing even 
gloomier with the smile that dwelt on them. " Yet there 
is a place even in this world where ye may build it." 

While the old man spoke Adam Forrester and Lilias hr.d 
carelessly thrown their eyes around, and perceived that tl:e 
spot where they had chanced to pause possessed a quiet 
charm which was well enough adapted to their present mood 
of mind. It was a small rise of ground with a certain reg- 
ularity of shape that had perhaps been bestowed by art, 
and a group of trees which almost surrounded it threw their 
pensive shadows across and far beyond, altliough some soften- 
ed glory of the sunshine found its way there. Tlie ancestral 
mansion wherein the lovers would dwell together appeared 
on one side, and the ivied church where they were to wor- 
ship on another. Happening to cast tlieir eyes on the groun 1, 
they smiled, yet with a sense of wonder, to see that a paie 
lily was growing at their feet. 

"We will build our temple here," said they, simultane- 
ously, and with an indescribable conviction that they had 
at last found the very spot. 

Yet while they uttered this exclamation the young man 
and the Lily turned an apprehensive glance at their dreary 
associate, deeming it hardly possible that some tale of 
earthly affliction should not make those precincts loath- 
some, as in every former case. The old num stood just be- 
hind them, so as to form the chief figure in the group, with 
his sable cloak muffling the lower part of his visage and his 
sombre hat overshadowing his brows. But he gave no word 
of dissent from their purpose, and an inscrutable smile was 
accepted by the lovers as a token that here had been no 
footprint of guilt or sorrow to desecrate the site of their 
temple of happiness. 

In a little time longer, while summer was still in its prime, 
the fairy-structure of the temple arose on the summit of the 
knoll amid the solemn shadows of the trees, yet often glad- 
dened with bright sunshine. It was built of w^hite marble, 


with slender and graceful pillars supporting a vaulted dome, 
and beneath the centre of this dome, upon a pedestal, was 
a slab of dark-veined marble on which books and music 
2'iiight be strewn. But there was a fantasy among the peo- 
ple of the neighborhood that the edifice was planned after 
an ancient mausoleum and was intended for a tomb, and 
that the central slab of dark-veined marble was to be in- 
scribed with the names of buried ones. They doubted, too, 
whether the form of Lilias Fay could appertain to a creature 
of this earth, being so very delicate and growing every day 
more fragile, so that she looked as if the summer breeze 
should snatch her up and waft her heavenward. But still 
she watched the daily growth of the temple, and so did old 
Walter Gascoigne, who now made that spot his continual 
haunt, leaning whole hours together on his stafi' and giving 
as deep attention to the work as though it had been indeed 
a tomb. In due time it was finished and a day appointed 
for a simple rite of dedication. 

On the preceding evening, after Adam Forrester had 
taken leave of his mistress, he looked back toward the por- 
tal of her dwelling and felt a strange thrill of fear, for he 
imagined that as the setting sunbeams faded from her figure 
she was exhaling away, and that something of her ethereal 
substance was withdrawn with each lessening gleam of light. 
With his farewell glance a shadow had fallen over the por- 
tal, and Lilias was invisible. His foreboding spirit deemed 
it an omen at the time, and so it proved ; for the sweet 
earthly form by which the Lily had been manifested to the 
world was found lifeless the next morning in the temple 
with her head resting on her arms, which were folded U2:>ou 
the slab of dark-veined marble. The chill winds of the 
earth had Ions: since breathed a blidit into this beautiful 
flower ; so that a loving hand had now transplanted it to 
blossom brightly in the garden of Paradise. 

But alas for the temple of happiness ! In his unutterable 
grief Adam Forrester had no purpose more at heart than to 



convert this temple of many delightful hopes into a tomb 
and bury his dead mistress there. And, lo ! a wonder ! 
Digging a grave beneath the temple's marble floor, the sex- 
ton found no virgin earth such as was meet to receive the 
maiden's dust, but an ancient sepulchre in which were 
treasured up the bones of generations that had died long 
ago. Among those forgotten ancestors was the Lily to be 
laid ; and when the funeral procession brought Lilias thither 
in her coffin, they beheld old Walter Gascoigne standing 
beneath the dome of the temple with his cloak of pall and 
face of darkest gloom, and wherever that figure might take 
its stand the spot would seem a sepulchre. He watched the 
mourners as they lowered the coffin down. 

"And so," said he to Adam Forrester, with the strange 
smile in which his insanity was wont to gleam forth, " you 
have found no better foundation for your happmess than 
on a grave?" 

But as the shadow of Affliction spoke a vision of hope 
and joy had its birth in Adam's mind even from the old 
man's taunting words, for then he knew what was betokened 
by the parable in which the Lily and himself had acted, 
and the mystery of life and death was opened to him. 

"Joy! joy!" he cried, throwing his arms toward heaven. 
" On a grave be the site of our temple, and now our happi- 
piness is for eternity." 

With those words a ray of sunshine broke through the 
dismal sky and glimmered down into the sepulchre, while 
at the same moment the shape of old Walter Gascoigne 
stalked drearily away, because his gloom, symbolic of all 
earthly sorrow, might no longer abide there now that the 
darkest riddle of humanity was read. 


It must be a spirit much unlike my own whicli can keep 
itself in health and vigor without sometimes stealing from 
the sultry sunshine of the world to plunge into the cool 
bath of solitude. At intervals, and not infrequent ones, the 
forest and the ocean summon me — one with the roar of its 
"waves, the other with the murmur of its boughs — forth from 
the haunts of men. But I must wander many a mile ere I 
could stand beneath the shadow of even one primeval tree, 
much less be lost among the multitude of hoary trunks and 
hidden from the earth and sky by the mystery of darksome 
foliage. Nothing is within my daily reach more like a for- 
est than the acre or two of w^oodland near some suburban 
farmhouse. When, therefore, the yearning for seclusion 
becomes a necessity within me, I am drawn to the seashore 
which extends its line of rude rocks and seldom-trodden 
sands for leagues around our bay. Setting forth at my last 
ramble on a September morning, I bound myself with a 
hermit's vow to interchange no thoughts with man or 
woman, to share no social pleasure, but to derive all that 
<iay's enjoyment from shore and sea and sky, from my soul's 
communion with these, and from fantasies and recollections 
or anticipated realities. Surely here is enough to feed a 
human spirit for a single day. — Farewell, then, busy world ! 
Till your evening lights shall shine along the street — till 
they gleam upon my sea-flushed face as I tread homeward 
' — free me from your ties and let me be a peaceful outlaw. 

Highways and cross-paths are hastily traversed, and, 



clambering down a crag, I find myself at the extremity of 
a long beach. How gladly does the spirit leap forth and 
suddenly enlarge its sense of being to the full extent of the 
broad blue, sunny deep ! A greeting and a homage to the 
sea ! I descend over its margin and dip my hand into the 
wave that meets me, and bathe my brow. That far-resound- 
ing roar is Ocean's voice of welcome. His salt breath brings 
a blessing along with it. Now let us pace together — the 
reader's fancy arm in arm with mine — this noble beach, 
which extends a mile or more from that craggy promontory 
to yonder rampart of broken rocks. In front, the sea ; in 
the rear, a precipitous bank the grassy verge of which is 
breaking away year after year, and flings down its tufts of 
verdure upon the barrenness below. The beach itself is a 
broad space of sand, brown and sparkling, with hardly any 
pebbles intermixed. Kear the water's edge there is a wet 
margin which glistens brightly in the sunshine and reflects 
objects like a mirror, and as we tread along the glistening 
border a dry spot flashes around each footstep, but grows 
moist again as we lift our feet. In some spots the sand re- 
ceives a complete impression of the sole, square toe and all ; 
elsewhere it is of such marble firmness that we must stamp 
heavily to leave a print even of the iron-shod heel. Along 
the whole of this extensive beach gambols the surf-wave. 
Now it makes a feint of dashing onward in a fury, yet dies 
away with a meek murmur and does but kiss the strand ; 
now, after many such abortive eflbrts, it rears itself up in 
an unbroken line, heightening as it advances, without a 
speck of foam on its green crest. With how fierce a roar it 
flings itself forward and rushes far up the beach ! 

As I threw my eyes along the edge of the surf I remem- 
ber that I was startled, as Robinson Crusoe might have been, 
by the sense that human life was within the magic circle of 
my solitude. Afar ofi" in the remote distance of the beach, 
appearing like sea-nymphs, or some airier things such as 
might tread upon the feathery spray, was a group of girls. 



Hardly had I beheld them, when they passed into the 
shadow of the rocks and vanished. To comfort myself — 
for truly I would fain have gazed a while longer — I made 
acquaintance with a flock of beach-birds. These little citi- 
zens of the sea and air preceded me by about a stone's- 
throw along the strand, seeking, I suppose, for food upon 
its margin. Yet, with a philosophy which mankind w^ould 
do well to imitate, they drew a continual pleasure from 
their toil for a subsistence. The sea was each little bird's 
great playmate. They chased it do'wnward as it swept back, 
and again ran up swiftly before the impending wave, which 
sometimes overtook them and bore them off their feet. But 
they floated as lightly as one of their own feathers on the 
breaking crest. In their airy flutterings they seemed to 
rest on the evanescent spray. Their images — long-legged 
littJe figures with gray backs and snowy bosoms — were seen 
as distinctly as the realities in the mirror of the glistening 
strand. As I advanced they flew a score or two of yards, 
and, again alighting, recommenced their dalliance with the 
surf-wave ; and thus they bore me company along the beach, 
the types of pleasant fantasies, till at its extremity they took 
wing over the ocean and were gone. After forming a 
friendship with these small surf-spirits, it is really worth a 
sigh to find no memorial of them save their multitudinous 
little tracks in the sand. 

When we have paced the length of the beach, it is j^leas- 
ant and not unprofitable to retrace our steps and recall the 
whole mood and occupation of the mind during the former 
passage. Our tracks, being all discernible, will guide us 
with an observing consciousness through every unconscious 
wandering of thought and fancy. Here we followed the 
surf in its reflux to pick up a shell which the sea seemed 
loth to relinquish. Here we found a seaweed with an im- 
mense brown leaf, and trailed it behind us by its long snake- 
like stalk. Here we seized a live horseshoe by the tail, and 
counted the many claws of that queer monster. Here we 


dug into the sand for pebbles, and skipped them upon the 
surface of the water. Here we wet our feet while examin- 
ing a jelly-fish which the waves, having just tossed it up, 
now sought to snatch away again. Here we trod along the 
brink of a fresh-water brooklet which flows across the beach, 
becoming shallower and more shallow, till at last it sinks 
into the sand and perishes in the eflfort to bear its little trib- 
ute to the main. Here some vagary appears to have be- 
wildered us, for our tracks go round and round and are 
confusedly intermingled, as if we had found a labyrinth 
upon the level beach. And here amid our idle pastime we 
sat down upon almost the only stone that breaks the surface 
of the sand, and were lost in an unlooked-for and overpow- 
ering conception of the majesty and awfulness of the great 
deep. Thus by tracking our footprints in the sand we track 
our own nature in its wayward course, and steal a glance 
upon it when it never dreams of being so observed. Such 
glances always make us wiser. 

This extensive beach affords room for another pleasant 
pastime. With your staff" you may write verses — love- 
verses if they please you best — and consecrate them with a 
woman's name. Here, too, may be inscribed thoughts, feel- 
ings, desires, warm outgushings from the heart's secret 
places, which you would not pour upon the sand without 
the certainty that almost ere the sky has looked upon them 
the sea will wash them out. Stir not hence till the record 
be effaced. Now (for there is room enough on your canvas) 
draw huge faces — huge as that of the Sphynx on Egyptian 
sands — and fit them with bodies of corresponding immensity 
and legs which might stride halfway to yonder island. 
Child's-play becomes magnificent on so grand a scale. But, 
after all, the most fascinating employment is simply to write 
your name in the sand. Draw the letters gigantic, so that 
two strides may barely measure them, and three for the 
long strokes ; cut deep, that the record may be permanent. 
Statesmen and warriors and poets have spent their strengtk 


in no better cause than this. Is it accomplished ? Return 
then, in an hour or two, and seek for this mighty record of 
a name. The sea will have swept over it, even as time rolls 
its effacing waves over the names of statesmen and warriors 
and poets. Hark ! the surf-wave laughs at you. 

Passing from the beach, I begin to clamber over the 
crags, making my difficult way among the ruins of a ram- 
part shattered and broken by the assaults of a fierce enemy. 
The rocks rise in every variety of attitude. Some of them 
have their feet in the foam and are shagged halfway upward 
with seaweed ; some have been hollowed almost into caverns 
by the unwearied toil of the sea, which can afford to spend 
centuries in wearing away a rock, or even polishing a peb- 
ble. One huge rock ascends in monumental shape, with a 
face like a giant's tombstone, on which the veins resemble 
inscriptions, but in an unknown tongue. We will fancy 
them the forgotten characters of an antediluvian race, or 
else that Nature's own hand has here recorded a mystery 
which, could I read her language, would make mankind the 
wiser and the happier. How many a thing has troubled 
me with that same idea ! Pass on and leave it unexplained. 
Here is a narrow avenue which might seem to have been 
hewn through the very heart of an enormous crag, affording 
passage for the rising sea to thunder back and forth, filling 
it with tumultuous foam and then leaving its floor of black 
pebbles bare and glistening. In this chasm there was once 
an intersecting vein of softer stone, which the waves have 
gnawed away piecemeal, while the granite walls remain 
entire on either side. How sharply and with what harsh 
clamor does the sea rake back the pebbles as it momentarily 
withdraws into its own depths ! At intervals the floor of 
the chasm is left nearly dry, but anon, at the outlet, two or 
three great waves are seen struggling to get in at once ; two 
hit the walls athwart, while one rushes straight through, 
and all three thunder as if with rage and triumph. They 
heap the chasm with a snow-drift of foam and spray. While 


watching tliis scene I can never rid myself of the idea that 
a monster endowed with life and fierce energy is striving to 
l)urst his wa}'^ through the narrow pass. And what a contrast 
to look through the stormy chasm and catch a glimpse of 
the calm bright sea beyond ! 

Many interesting discoveries may be made among these 
broken clifts. Once, for example, I found a dead seal which 
a recent tempest had tossed into the nook of the rocks, 
where his shaggy carcase lay rolled in a heap of eel-grass 
as if the sea-monster sought to hide himself from my eye. 
Another time a shark seemed on the point of leaping from 
the surf to swallow me, nor did I wholly without dread ap- 
proach near enough to ascertain that the man-eater had 
already met his own death from some fisherman in the bay. 
In the same ramble I encountered a bird — a large gray 
bird — but whether a loon or a wild goose or the identical 
albatross of the Ancient INIariner was beyond my ornithology 
to decide. It reposed so naturally on a bed of dry seaweed, 
with its head beside its wing, that I almost fancied it alive, 
and trod softly lest it should suddenly spread its wings sky- 
ward. But the sea-bird would soar among the clouds no 
more, nor ride upon its native waves ; so I drew near and 
pulled out one of its mottled tail-feathers for a remembrance. 
Another day I discovered an immense bone wedged into a 
chasm of the rocks ; it was at least ten feet long, curved 
like a scymitar, bejewelled with barnacles and small shell- 
fish and partly covered with a growth of seaweed. Some 
leviathan of former ages had used this ponderous mass as a 
jaw-bone. Curiosities of a minuter order may be observed 
in a deep reservoir which is replenished with water at every 
tide, but becomes a lake among the crags save when the sea 
is at its height. At the bottom of this rocky basin grow 
marine plants, some of which tower high beneath the water 
and cast a shadow in the sunshine. Small fishes dart to and 
fro and hide themselves among the seaweed ; there is also a 
solitary crab who appears to lead the life of a hermit, com- 


muning with none of the other denizens of the place, and 
likewise several five-fingers ; for I know no other name than 
that which children give them. If your imagination be at 
all accustomed to such freaks, you may look down into the 
depths of this pool and fancy it the mysterious depth of 
ocean. But where are the hulks and scattered timbers of 
sunken ships ? where the treasures that old Ocean hoards ? 
where the corroded cannon ? where the corpses and skel- 
etons of seamen who went down in storm and battle ? 

On the day of my last ramble — it was a September day, 
yet as warm as summer — what should I behold as I ap- 
proached the above-described basin but three girls sitting 
on its margin and — yes, it is veritably so — laving their 
snowy feet in the sunny water? These, these are the warm 
realities of those three visionary shapes that flitted from me 
on the beach. Hark their merry voices as they toss up the 
water with their feet ! They have not seen me. I must 
shrink behind this rock and steal away again. 

In honest truth, vowed to solitude as I am, there is some- 
thing in this encounter that makes the heart flutter with a 
strangely pleasant sensation. I know these girls to be real- 
ities of flesh and blood, yet, glancing at them so briefly, 
they mingle like kindred creatures with the ideal beings of 
my mind. It is pleasant, likewise, to gaze down from some 
high crag and watch a group of children gathering pebbles 
and pearly shells and playing with the surf as with old 
Ocean's hoary beard. Nor does it infringe upon my seclu- 
sion to see yonder boat at anchor ofl* the shore swinging 
dreamily to and fro and rising and sinking with the alter- 
nate swell, while the crew — four gentlemen in roundabout 
jackets — are busy with their fishing-lines. But with an 
inward antipathy and a headlong flight do I eschew the 
presence of any meditative stroller like myself, known by 
his pilgrim-staff*, his sauntering step, his shy demeanor, his 
observant yet abstracted eye. 

From such a man as if another self had scared me I 


scramble hastily over the rocks, and take refuge in a nook 
' which many a secret hour has given me a right to call my 
own. I would do battle for it even with the churl that 
should produce the title-deeds. Have not my musings 
melted into its rocky walls and sandy floor and made them 
a portion of myself? It is a recess in the line of cliffs, 
walled round by a rough, liigh precipice which almost en- 
circles and shuts in a little space of sand. In front the sea 
appears as between the pillars of a portal ; in the rear the 
precipice is broken and intermixed with earth which gives 
nourishment not only to clinging and twining shrubs, but 
to trees that grip the rock with their naked roots and seem 
to struggle hard for footing and for soil enough to live upon. 
These are fir trees, but oaks hang their heavy branches 
from above, and throw down acorns on the beach, and shed 
their withering foliage upon the waves. At this autumnal 
season the precipice is decked with variegated splejidor. 
Trailing wreaths of scarlet flaunt from the summit down- 
ward ; tufts of yellow-flowering shrubs and rose-bushes, with 
their reddened leaves and glossy seed-berries, sprout from 
each crevice ; at every glance I detect some new light or 
shade of beauty, all contrasting with the stern gray rock. 
A rill of water trickles down the clifi* and fills a little cistern 
near the base. I drain it at a draught, and find it fresh 
and pure. This recess shall be my dining-hall. And what 
the feast ? A few biscuits made savory by soaking them in 
sea-water, a tuft of samphire gathered from the beach, and 
an apple for the dessert. By this time the little rill has 
filled its reserv^oir again, and as I quaff it I thank God 
more heartily than for a civic banquet that he gives me the 
healthful appetite to make a feast of bread and water. 

Dinner being over, I throw myself at length upon the 
sand and, basking in the sunshine, let my mind disport it- 
self at will. The walls of this my hermitage have no 
tongue to tell my follies, though I sometimes fancy that 
they have ears to hear them and a soul to sympathize. 


There is a magic in this spot. Dreams haunt its precincts 
and flit around me in broad sunlight, nor require that 
sleep shall blindfold me to real objects ere these be visible. 
Here can I frame a story of two lovers, and make their 
shadows live before me and be mirrored in the tranquil 
water as they tread along the sand, leaving no footprints. 
Here, should I will it, I can summon up a single shade and 
be myself her lover. — Yes, dreamer, but your lonely heart 
will be the colder for such fancies. — Sometimes, too, the 
Past comes back, and finds me here, and in her train come 
faces which were gladsome when I knew them, yet seem 
not gladsome now. Would that my hiding-place were 
lonelier, so that the Past might not find me I — Get ye all 
gone, old friends, and let me listen to the murmur of the 
sea — a melancholy voice, but less sad than yours. Of 
what mysteries is it telling ? Of sunken ships and where- 
abouts they lie ? Of islands afar and undiscovered whose 
tawny children are unconscious of other islands and of 
continents, and deem the stars of heaven their nearest 
neighbors? Nothing of all this. What, then? Has it 
talked for so many ages and meant nothing all the while ? 
No ; for those ages find utterance in the sea's unchanging 
voice, and warn the listener to withdraw his interest from 
mortal vicissitudes and let the infinite idea of eternity per- 
vade his soul. This is wisdom, and therefore will I spend 
the next half-hour in shaping little boats of driftwood and 
launching: them on vovasfes across the cove, with the 
feather of a sea-gull for a sail. If the voice of ages tell 
me true, this is as wise an occupation as to build ships of 
five hundred tons and launch them forth upon the main, 
bound to "Far Cathay." Yet how would the merchant 
sneer at me ! 

And, after all, can such philosophy be true ? Methinks 
I could find a thousand arguments against it. Well, then, 
let yonder shaggy rock mid-deep in the surf — see! he is 
somewhat wrathful : he rages and roars and foams, — let 


that ^all rock be my antagonist, and let me exercise my 
oratory like him of Athens who bandied words with an 
angry sea and got the victory. JNIy maiden-speech is a tri- 
umphant one, for the gentleman in seaweed has nothing to 
offer in reply save an immitigable roaring. His voice, in- 
deed, will be heard a long while after mine is hushed. 
Once more I shout and the cliffs reverberate the sound. 
Oh what joy for a shy man to feel himself so solitary that 
he may lift his voice to its highest pitch without hazard 
of a listener ! — But hush ! Be silent, my good friend ! 
Whence comes that stifled laughter ? It was musical, but 
liow should there be such music in my solitude ? Looking 
upward, I catch a glimpse of three faces peeping from the 
summit of the cliff* like angels between me and their native 
sky. — Ah, fair girls I you may make yourself merry at my 
eloquence, but it was my turn to smile when I saw your 
white feet in the pool. Let us keep each other's secrets. 

The sunshine has now passed from my hermitage, except 
a gleam upon the sand just where it meets the sea. A 
crowd of gloomy fantasies will come and haunt me if I 
tarry longer here in the darkening twilight of these gray 
rocks. This is a dismal place in some moods of the mind. 
Climb we, therefore, the precipice, and pause a moment on 
the brink gazing down into that hollow chamber by the 
deep where we have been what few can be — sufficient to 
our own pastime. Yes, say the word outright : self-suffi- 
cient to our own happiness. How^ lonesome looks the re- 
cess now, and dreary too, like all other spots where happi- 
ness has been! There lies my shadow in the departing 
sunshine with its head upon the sea. I will pelt it with 
pebbles. A hit ! a hit ! I clap my hands in triumph, and 
see my shadow clapping its unreal hands and claiming the 
triumph for itself What a simpleton must I have been 
all day, since my ow'n shadow makes a mock of my fool- 
eries I 

Homeward ! homeward ! It is time to hasten home. It 


is time — it is time ; for as the sun sinks over the western 
wave the sea grows melancholy and the surf has a saddened 
tone. The distant sails appear astray and not of eartli in 
their remoteness amid the desolate waste. My spirit wan- 
ders forth afar, but finds no resting-place and comes shiver- 
ing back. It is time that I were hence. But grudge me 
not the day that has been spent in seclu-sion which yet was 
not solitude, since the great sea has been my companion, 
and the little sea-birds my friends, and the wind has told 
me his secrets, and airy shapes have flitted around me in 
my hermitage. Such companionship works an eflect upon 
a man's character as if he had been admitted to the society 
of creatures th^ are not mortal. And Avlien, at noontide, 
I tread the crowded streets, the influence of this day will 
still be felt ; so that I shall walk among men kindly and as 
a brother, with afiection and sympathy, but yet shall not 
melt into the indistinguishable mass of humankind. I shall 
think my own thoughts and feel my own emotions and pos- 
sess my individuality unviolated. 

But it is good at the eve of such a day to feel and know 
that there are men and women in the world. That feeliug 
and that knowledge are mine at this moment, for on the 
shore, far below me, the fishing-party have landed from 
their skifi" and are cooking their scaly prey by a fire of 
driftwood kindled in the angle of two rude rocks. The 
three visionary girls are likewise there. In the deepening 
twilight, while the surf is dashing near their hearth, the 
ruddy gleam of the fire throws a strange air of comfort 
over the wild cove, bestrewn as it is with pebbles and sea- 
weed and exposed to the " melancholy main." Moreover, 
as the smoke climbs up the precipice, it brings with it a sa- 
vory smell from a pan of fried fish and a black kettle of 
chowder, and reminds me that my dinner was nothing bui: 
bread and water and a tuft of samphire and an apple. ]Me- 
thinks the party might find room for another guest at that 
flat rock which serves them for a table ; and if spoons be 


scarce, I could pick up a clam-sliell on the beach. They 
see me now ; and — the blessing of a hungry man upon him I 
— one of them sends up a hospitable shout : " Halloo, Sir 
Solitary ! Come down and sup with us !" The ladies wave 
their handkerchiefs. Can I decline ? No ; and be it owned, 
after all my solitary joys, that this is the sweetest moment 
of a day by the seashore. 


There is hardly a more difficult exercise of fancy than, 
while gazing at a figure of melancholy age, to recreate its 
youth, and without entirely obliterating the identity of 
form and features to restore those graces which Time has 
snatched away. Some old people — especially women — so 
age-worn and woeful are they, seem never to have been 
young and gay. It is easier to conceive that such gloomy 
phantoms were sent into the world as withered and decrepit 
as we behold them now, wdth sympathies only for pain and 
grief, to watch at death-beds and weep at funerals. Even 
the sable garments of their widowhood appear essential to 
their existence ; all their attributes combine to render them 
darksome shadows creeping strangely amid the sunshine of 
human life. Yet it is no unprofitable task to take one of 
these doleful creatures and set Fancy resolutely at "work to 
brighten the dim eye, and darken the silvery locks, and 
paint the ashen cheek with rose-color, and repair the 
shrunken and crazy form, till a dewy maiden shall be seen 
in the old matron's elbow-chair. The miracle being wrought, 
then let the years roll back again, each sadder than the last, 
and the whole weight of age and sorrow settle down upon 
the youthful figure. Wrinkles and furrows, the handwrit- 
ing of Time, may thus be deciphered and found to contain 
deep lessons of thought and feeling. 

Such profit might be derived by a skilful observer from 
my much-respected friend the Widow Toothaker, a nurse 
of great repute who has breathed the atmosphere of sick- 



cliambers and dying-breaths these forty years. See! she 
sits cowering over her lonesome hearth with her gown and 
upper petticoat drawn upward, gathering thriftily into her 
person the whole warmth of the fire which now at nightfall 
begins to dissipate the autumnal chill of her chamber. The 
blaze quivers caj)riciously in front, alternately glimmering 
into the deepest chasms of her wrinkled visage, and then 
permitting a ghostly dimness to mar the outlines of her 
venerable figure. And Kurse Toothaker holds a teaspoon 
in her right hand with which to stir up the contents of a 
tumbler in her left, whence steams a vapory fragrance ab- 
horred of temperance societies. Now she sips, now stirs, 
now sips again. Her sad old heart has need to be revived 
by the rich infusion of Geneva which is mixed half and 
half with hot water in the tumbler. All day long she has 
been sitting by a death-pillow, and quitted it for her home 
only when the spirit of her patient left the clay and went 
homeward too. But now are her melancholy meditations 
cheered and her torpid blood warmed and her shoulders 
lightened of at least twenty ponderous years by a draught 
from the true fountain of youth in a case-bottle. It is 
strangle that men should deem that fount a fable, when its 
liquor fills more bottles than the Congress-water. — Sip it 
again, good nurse, and see whether a second draught will 
not take off another score of years, and perhaps ten more, 
and show us in your high-backed chair the blooming dam- 
sel who plighted troths with Edward Fane. — Get you gone, 
Age and Widowhood ! — Come back, unwedded Youth ! — 
But, alas ! the charm will not work. In spite of Fancy's 
most potent spell, I can see only an old dame cowering over 
the fire, a picture of decay and desolation, while the No- 
vember blast roars at her in the chimney and fitful showers 
rush suddenly against the window. 

Yet there was a time when Rose Grafton — such was the 
pretty maiden-name of Nurse Toothaker — possessed beauty 
that would have gladdened this dim and dismal chamber as 


"with sunsTiine. It won for her the heart of Edward Fane, 
who has since made so great a figure in the world and is 
now a grand old gentleman with powdered hair and as 
gouty as a lord. These early lovers thought to have walked 
hand in hand through life. They had wept together for 
Edward's little sister Mary, whom Rose tended in her sick- 
ness — partly because she was the sweetest child that ever 
lived or died, but more for love of him. She was but three 
years old. Being such an infant. Death could not embody 
his terrors in her little corpse ; nor did Rose fear to touch 
the dead child's brow, though chill, as she curled the silken 
hair around it, nor to take her tiny hand and clasp a flower 
within its fingers. Afterward, when she looked through 
the pane of glass in the cofiin-lid and beheld Mary's face, 
it seemed not so much like death or life as like a wax-work 
wrought into the perfect image of a child asleep and dream- 
ing of its mother's smile. Rose thought her too fair a thing 
to be hidden in the grave, and wondered that an angel did 
not snatch up little Mary's coflSn and bear the slumbering 
babe to heaven and bid her wake immortal. But when the 
sods were laid on little Mary, the heart of Rose was trou- 
bled. She shuddered at the fantasy that in grasping the 
child's cold fingers her virgin hand had exchanged a first 
greeting with mortality and could never lose the earthy 
taint. How many a greeting since ! But as yet she was a 
fair young girl with the dewdrops of fresh feeling in her 
bosom, and, instead of " Rose " — which seemed too mature 
a name for her half-opened beauty — her lover called her 
« Rosebud." 

The rosebud was destined never to bloom for Edward 
Fane. His mother was a rich and haughty dame with all 
the aristocratic prejudices of colonial times. She scorned 
Rose Grafton's humble parentage and caused her son to 
break his faith, though, had she let him choose, he would 
have prized his Rosebud above the richest diamond. The 
lovers parted, and have seldom met again. Both may have 



visited the same mansions, but not at the same time, for one 
was bidden to the festal hall and the other to the sick-cham- 
ber ; he was the guest of Pleasure and Prosperity, and she 
of Anguish. Rose, after their separation, was long secluded 
within the dwelling of Mr. Toothaker, whom she married 
with the revengeful hope of breaking her false lover's heart. 
She went to her bridegroojn's arms with bitterer tears, they 
say, than young girls ought to shed at the threshold of the 
bridal-chamber. Yet, though her husband's head was get- 
ting gray and his heart had been chilled with an autumnal 
frost, Rose soon began to love him, and wondered at her 
own conjugal affection. He was all she had to love ; there 
were no children. 

In a year or two poor Mr. Toothaker was visited with a 
wearisome infirmity which settled in his joints and made 
him weaker than a child. He crept forth about his busi- 
ness, and came home at dinner-time and eventide, not with 
the manly tread that gladdens a wife's heart, but slowly, 
feebly, jotting down each dull footstep with a melancholy 
dub of his staff. We must pardon his pretty wife if she 
sometimes blushed to own him. Her visitors, when they 
heard him coming, looked for the appearance of some old, 
old man, but he dragged his nerveless limbs into the parlor 
— and there was Mr. Toothaker ! The disease increasing, 
he never went into the sunshine save with a staff in his right 
hand and his left on his wife's shoulder, bearing heavily 
downward like a dead man's hand. Thus, a slender woman 
still looking maiden-like, she supported his tall, broad- 
chested frame along the pathway of their little garden, and 
plucked the roses for her gray-haired husband, and spoke 
soothingly as to an infant. His mind was palsied with his 
body ; its utmost energy was peevishness. In a few months 
more she helped him up the staircase with a pause at every 
step, and a longer one upon the landing-place, and a heavy 
glance behind as he crossed the threshold of his chamber. 
He knew, poor man! that the precincts of those four 


walls would thenceforth be his world — his world, his 
home, his tomb, at once a dwelling- and a burial-place — 
till he were borne to a darker and a narrower one. But 
Rose was with him in the tomb. He leaned upon her in 
his daily passage from the bed to the chair by the fireside, 
and back again from the weary chair to the joyless bed — 
his bed and hers, their marriage-bed — till even this short 
journey ceased and his head lay all day upon the pillow 
and hers all night beside it. How long poor Mr. Toothaker 
was kept in misery ! Death seemed to draw near the door^ 
and often to lift the latch, and sometimes to thrust his ugly 
skull into the chamber, nodding to Rose and pointing at 
her husband, but still delayed to enter. " This bedridden 
wretch cannot escape me," quoth Death. " I will go forth 
and run a race with the swift and fight a battle with the 
strong, and come back for Toothaker at my leisure." Oh, 
when the deliverer came so near, in the dull anguish of her 
worn-out sympathies did she never long to cry, "Death, 
come in " ? 

But no ; we have no right to ascribe such a wish to our 
friend Rose. She never failed in a wife's duty to her poor 
sick husband. She murmured not though a glimpse of the 
sunny sky was as strange to her as him, nor answered peev- 
ishly though his complaining accents roused her from sweet- 
est dream only to share his wretchedness. He knew her 
faith, yet nourished a cankered jealousy ; and when the 
slow disease had chilled all his heart save one lukewarm 
spot which Death's frozen fingers were searching for, his last 
words were, " What would my Rose have done for her first 
love, if she has been so true and kind to a sick old man like 
me ?" And then his poor soul crept away and left the body 
lifeless, though hardly more so than for years before, and 
Rose a widow, though in truth it was the wedding-night 
that widowed her. She felt glad, it must be owned, when 
Mr. Toothaker was buried, because his corpse had retained 
such a likeness to the man half alive that she hearkened 


for the sad murmur of his voice bidding her shift his pillow. 
But all through the next winter, though the grave had held 
him many a month, she fancied him calling from that cold 
bed, " Rose, Rose ! Come put a blanket on my feet !" 

So now the Rosebud was the widow Toothaker. Her 
troubles had come early, and, tedious as they seemed, had 
passed before all her bloom was fled. She was still fair 
enough to captivate a bachelor, or with a widow's cheerful 
gravity she might have won a widower, stealing into his 
heart in the very guise of his dead wife. But the widow 
Toothaker had no such projects. By her watchings and 
continual cares her heart had become knit to her first hus- 
band with a constancy which changed its very nature and 
made her love him for his infirmities, and infirmity for his 
sake. When the palsied old man was gone, even her early 
lover could not have supplied his place. She had dwelt in 
a sick-chamber and been the companion of a half-dead 
wretch till she could scarcely breathe in a free air and felt 
ill at ease with the healthy and the happy. She missed the 
fragrance of the doctor's stuff*. She walked the chamber 
with a noiseless footfall. If visitors came in, she spoke in 
soft and soothing accents, and was startled and shocked by 
their loud voices. Often in the lonesome evening she 
looked timorously from the fireside to the bed, with almost 
a hope of recognizing a ghastly face upon the pillow. Then 
went her thoughts sadly to her husband's grave. If one 
impatient throb had wronged him in his lifetime, if she had 
secretly repined because her buoyant youth was imprisoned 
with his torpid age, if ever while slumbering beside 
him a treacherous dream had admitted another into her 
heart, — yet the sick man had been preparing a revenge 
which the dead now claimed. On his painful pillow he 
had cast a spell around her; his groans and misery had 
proved more captivating charms than gayety and youthful 
grace ; in his semblance Disease itself had won the Rose- 
bud for a bride, nor could his death dissolve the nuptials. 


By that indissoluble bond she had gained a home in every 
sick-chamber, and nowhere else ; there were her brethren 
and sisters ; thither her husband summoned her with that 
voice which had seemed to issue from the grave of Tooth- 
aker. At length she recognized her destiny. 

We have beheld her as the maid, the wife, the widow ; 
now we see her in a separate and insulated character : she 
was in all her attributes Nurse Toothaker. And Nurse 
Toothaker alone, with her own shrivelled lips, could make 
known her experience in that capacity. What a history 
might she record of the great sicknesses in which she has 
gone hand in hand with the exterminating angel ! She re- 
members when the small-pox hoisted a red banner on 
almost every house along the street. She has witnessed 
when the typhus fever swept off a whole household, young 
and old, all but a lonely mother, who vainly shrieked to 
follow hei last loved one. Where would be Death's 
triumph if none lived to weep ? She can speak of strange 
maladies that have broken out as if spontaneously, but 
were found to have been imported from foreign lands with 
rich silks and other merchandise, the costliest portion of 
the cargo. And once, she recollects, the people died of 
what was considered a new pestilence, till the doctors traced 
it to the ancient grave of a young girl who thus caused 
many deaths a hundred years after her own burial. Strange 
that such black mischief should lurk in a maiden's grave ! 
She loves to tell how strong men fight with fiery fevers, 
utterly refusing to give up their breath, and how consump- 
tive virgins fade out of the world, scarcely reluctant, as if 
their lovers were wooing them to a far country. — Tell us, 
thou fearful woman ; tell us the death-secrets. Fain would 
I search out the meaning of words faintly gasped with in- 
termingled sobs and broken sentences half-audibly spoken 
between earth and the judgment-seat. 

An awful woman! She is the patron-saint of young 
physicians and the bosom-friend of old ones. In the man- 


sions where she enters the inmates provide themselves black 
garments ; the coffin-maker follows her, and the bell tolls 
as she comes away from the threshold. Death himself has 
met her at so many a bedside that he puts forth his bony 
hand to greet Nurse Toothaker. She is an awful woman. 
And oh, is it conceivable that this handmaid of human in- 
firmity and affliction — so darkly stained, so thoroughly im- 
bued with all that is saddest in the doom of mortals — can 
ever again be bright and gladsome even though bathed in 
the sunshine of eternity? By her long communion with 
woe has she not forfeited her ipheritance of immortal joy ? 
Does any germ of bliss survive within her ? 

Hark! an eager knocking at Nurse Toothaker's door. 
She starts from her drowsy reverie, sets aside the empty 
tumbler and teaspoon, and lights a lamp at the dim embers 
of the fire. " Rap, rap, rap !" again, and she hurries adown 
the staircase, wondering which of her friends can be at 
death's door now, since there is such an earnest messenger 
at Nurse Toothaker's. Again the peal resounds just as her 
hand is on the lock. " Be quick. Nurse Toothaker !" cries 
a man on the doorstep. " Old General Fane is taken with 
the gout in his stomach and ha? sent for you to watch by 
his death-bed. Make haste, for there is no time to lose." 
— " Fane ! Edward Fane ! And has he sent for me at last ? 
I am ready. I will get on my cloak and begone. So,'* 
adds the sable-gowned, ashen-visaged, funereal old figure, 
" Edward Fane remembers his Rosebud." 

Our question is answered. There is a germ of bliss within 
her. Her long-hoarded constancy, her memory of the bliss 
that was remaining amid the gloom of her after-life like a 
sweet-smelling flower in a coffin, is a symbol that all may 
be renewed. In some happier clime the Rosebud may re- 
vive again with all the dewdrops in its bosom. 



I HAVE sometimes produced a singular and not unpleas- 
ing effect, so far as my own mind was concerned, by imag- 
ining a train of incidents in which the spirit and mechanism 
of the faery legend should be combined with the characters 
and manners of familiar life. In the little tale which fol- 
lows a subdued tinge of the wild and wonderful is thrown 
over a sketch of New England personages and scenery, yet, 
it is hoped, without entirely obliterating the sober hues of 
nature. Rather than a story of events claiming to be real, 
it may be considered as an allegory such as the writers of 
the last century would have expressed in the shape of an 
Eastern tale, but to which I have endeavored to give a 
more lifelike warmth than could be infused into those fan- 
ciful productions. 

In the twilight of a summer eve a tall dark figure over 
which long and remote travel had thrown an outlandish 
aspect was entering a village not in "faery londe," but 
within our own familiar boundaries. The staff on which 
this traveller leaned had been his companion from the spot 
where it grew in the jungles of Hindostan ; the hat that 
overshadowed his sombre brow, had shielded him from the 
suns of Spain ; but his cheek had been blackened by the 
red-hot wind of an Arabian desert and had felt the frozen 
breath of an Arctic region. Long sojourning amid wild 
and dangerous men, he still wore beneath his vest the ata- 
ghan which he had once struck into the throat of a Turkish 



robber. In every foreign clime he had lost something of 
his New England characteristics, and perhaps from every 
people he had unconsciously borrowed a new peculiarity ; 
so that when the world-wanderer again trod the street of 
his native village it is no wonder that he passed unrecog- 
nized, though exciting the gaze and curiosity of all. Yet, 
as his arm casually touched that of a young woman who 
was wending her way to an evening lecture, she started and 
almost uttered a cry. 

" Ralph Cranfield !" was the name that she half articu' 

" Can that be my old playmate Faith Egerton ?" thought 
the traveller, looking round at her figure, but without paus- 

Ralph Cranfield from his youth upward had felt himself 
marked out for a high destiny. He had imbibed the idea 
— we say not whether it were revealed to him by witchcraft 
or in a dream of prophecy, or that his brooding fancy had 
palmed its own dictates upon him as the oracles of a sybil, 
but he had imbibed the idea, and held it firmest among his 
articles of faith — that three marvellous events of his life 
were to be confirmed to him by three signs. 

The first of these three fatalities, and perhaps the one on 
which his youthful imagination had dwelt most fondly, was 
the discovery of the maid who alone of all the maids on 
earth could make him happy by her love. He was to roam 
around the world till he should meet a beautiful woman 
wearing on her bosom a jewel in the shape of a heart — 
whether of pearl or ruby or emerald or carbuncle or a 
changeful opal, or perhaps a priceless diamond, Ralph 
Cranfield little cared, so long as it were a heart of one 
peculiar shape. On encountering this lovely stranger he 
was bound to address her thus : " Maiden, I have brought 
you a heavy heart. May I rest its weight on you ?" And 
if she were his fated bride — if their kindred souls were des- 
tined to form a union here below which all eternity should 


only bind more closely — she would reply, with her finger 
on the heart-shaped jewel, " This token which I have worn 
so long is the assurance that you may." 

And, secondly, Ralph Cranfield had a firm belief that 
there was a mighty treasure hidden somewhere in the earth 
of which the burial-place would be revealed to none but 
him. When his feet should press upon the mysterious spot, 
there would be a hand before him pointing downward — 
whether carved of marble or hewn in gigantic dimensions 
on the side of a rocky precipice, or perchance a hand of 
flame in empty air, he could not tell, but at least he would 
discern a hand, the forefinger pointing downward, and be- 
neath it the Latin word ''Effode"—" Dig !" And, digging 
thereabouts, the gold in coin or ingots, the precious stones, 
or of whatever else the treasure might consist, would be 
certain to reward his toil. 

The third and last of the miraculous events in the life of 
this high-destined man was to be the attainment of exten- 
sive influence and sway over his fellow-creatures. Whether 
he were to be a king and founder of a hereditary throne, 
or the victorious leader of a people contending for their 
freedom, or the apostle of a purified and regenerated faith, 
was left for futurity to show. As messengers of the sign by 
which Ralph Cranfield might recognize the summons, three 
venerable men were to claim audience of him. The chief 
among them — a dignified and majestic person arrayed, it 
may be supposed, in the flowing garments of an ancient 
sage — would be the bearer of a wand or prophet's rod. 
With this wand or rod or staff" the venerable sage would 
trace a certain figure in the air, and then proceed to make 
known his Heaven-instructed message, which, if obeyed, 
must lead to glorious results. 

With this proud fate before him, in the flush of his im- 
aginative youth Ralph Cranfield had set forth to seek the 
maid, the treasure, and the venerable sage with his gift of 
extended empire. And had he found them ? Alas ! it was 


not with the aspect of a triumphant man who had achieved 
a nobler destiny than all his fellows, but rather with the 
gloom of one struggling against peculiar and continual ad- 
versity, that he now passed homeward to his mother's cot- 
tage. He had come back, but only for a time, to lay aside 
the pilgrim's staff, trusting that his weary manhood would 
regain somewhat of the elasticity of youth in the spot where 
his threefold fate had been foreshown him. There had been 
few changes in the village, for it was not one of those thriving 
places where a year's prosperity makes more than the havoc 
of a century's decay, but, like a gray hair in a young man's 
head, an antiquated little town full of old maids and aged 
elms and moss-grown dwellings. Few seemed to be the 
changes here. The drooping elms, indeed, had a more ma- 
jestic spread, the weather-blackened houses were adorned 
with a denser thatch of verdant moss, and doubtless there 
were a few more gravestones in the burial-ground inscribed 
with names that had once been familiar in the village street ; 
yet, summing up all the mischief that ten years had wrought, 
it seemed scarcely more than if Ralph Cranfield had gone 
forth that very morning and dreamed a day-dream till the 
twilight, and then turned back again. But his heart grew 
cold because the village did not remember him as he re- 
membered the village. 

" Here is the change," sighed he, striking his hand upon 
his breast. " Who is this man of thought and care, weary 
with world- wandering and heavy with disappointed hopes ? 
The youth returns not who went forth so joyously." 

And now Ralph Cranfield was at his mother's gate, in 
front of the small house where the old lady, with slender 
but sufficient means, had kept herself comfortable during 
her son's long absence. Admitting himself within the en- 
closure, he leaned against a great old tree, trifling with his 
own impatience as people often do in those intervals when 
years are summed into a moment. He took a minute sur- 
vey of the dwelling — its windows brightened with the sky- 


gleam, its doorway with the half of a millstone for a step, 
and the faintly-traced path waving thence to the gate. He 
made friends again with his childhood's friend — the old tree 
against which he leaned — and, glancing his eye down its 
trunk, beheld something that excited a melancholy smile. 
It was a half-obliterated inscription — the Latin word 
^'Effode " — which he remembered to have carved in the bark 
of the tree with a whole day's toil when he had first begun 
to muse about his exalted destiny. It might be accounted 
a rather singular coincidence that the bark just above the 
inscription had put forth an excrescence shaped not unlike a 
hand, with the forefinger pointing obliquely at the word of 
fate. Such, at least, was its appearance in the dusky light. 

" Now, a credulous man," said Ralph Cranfield, carelessly, 
to himself, " might suppose that the treasure w^hich I have 
sought round the world lies buried, after all, at the very 
door of my mother's dwelling. That would be a jest 

More he thought not about the matter, for now the door 
■was opened and an elderly woman appeared on the threshold, 
peering into the dusk to discover who it might be that had 
intruded on her premises and was standing in the shadow 
of her tree. It was Ralph Cranfield's mother. Pass we 
over their greeting, and leave the one to her joy and the 
other to his rest — if quiet rest he found. 

But when morning broke, he arose with a troubled brow, 
for his sleep and his wakefulness had alike been full of 
dreams. All the fervor was rekindled with which he had 
burned of yore to unravel the threefold mystery of his fate. 
The crowd of his early visions seemed to have awaited him 
beneath his mother's roof and thronged riotously around to 
welcome his return. In the well-remembered chamber, on 
the pillow where his infancy had slumbered, he had passed 
a wilder night than ever in an Arab tent or when he had 
reposed his head in the ghastly shades of a haunted forest. 
A shadowy maid had stolen to his bedside and laid her fin- 


ger on the scintillating heart ; a hand of flame had glowed 
amid the darkness, pointing downward to a mystery within 
the earth ; a hoary sage had waved his prophetic wand and 
beckoned the dreamer onward to a chair of state. The 
same phantoms, though fainter in the daylight, still flitted 
about the cottage and mingled among the crowd of familiar 
faces that were drawn thither by the news of Ralph Cran- 
field's return to bid him welcome for his mother's sake. 
There they found him, a tall, dark, stately man of foreign 
aspect, courteous in demeanor and mild of speech, yet with 
an abstracted eye which seemed often to snatch a glance at 
the invisible. 

Meantime, the widow Cranfield went bustling about the 
house full of joy that she again had somebody to love and 
be careful of, and for whom she might vex and tease 
herself with the petty troubles of daily life. It was nearly 
noon when she looked forth from the door and descried 
three personages of note coming along the street through 
the hot sunshine and the masses of elm-tree shade. At 
length they reached her gate and undid the latch. 

" See, Ralph !" exclaimed she, with maternal pride ; "here 
is Squire Hawkwood and the two other selectmen coming on 
purpose to see you. Now, do tell them a good long story 
about what you have seen in foreign parts." 

The foremost of the three visitors, Squire Hawkwood, 
was a very pompous but excellent old gentleman, the head 
and prime-mover in all the affairs of the village, and uni= 
versally acknowledged to be one of the sagest men on earth. 
He wore, according to a fashion even then becoming anti- 
quated, a three-cornered hat, and carried a silver-headed 
cane the use of which seemed to be rather for flourishing 
in the air than for assisting the progress of his legs. His 
two companions were elderly and respectable yeomen who, 
retaining an ante-Revolutionary reverence for rank and he- 
reditary wealth, kept a little in the squire's rear. 

As they approached along the pathway Ralph Cranfield 


sat in an oaken elbow-chair half unconsciously gazing at 
the three visitors and enveloping their homely figures in 
the misty romance that pervaded his mental world. " Here," 
thought he, smiling at the conceit — " here come three elderly 
personages, and the first of the three is a venerable sage 
with a staflT. What if this embassy should bring me the 
message of my fate ?" 

While- Squire Hawkwood and his colleagues entered, 
Ralph rose from his seat and advanced a few steps to re- 
ceive them, and his stately figure and dark countenance as 
he bent courteously toward his guests had a natural dig- 
nity contrasting well with the bustling importance of the 
squire. The old gentleman, according to invariable custom, 
gave an elaborate preliminary flourish with his cane in the 
air, then removed his three-cornered hat in order to wipe 
his brow, and finally proceeded to make known his errand. 

" My colleagues and myself," began the squire, " are bur- 
dened with momentous duties, being jointly selectmen of 
this village. Our minds for the space of three days past 
have been laboriously bent on the selection of a suitable 
person to fill a most important ofiice and take upon himself 
a charge and rule which, wisely considered, may be ranked 
no lower than those of kings and potentates. And whereas 
you, our native townsman, are of good natural intellect and 
well cultivated by foreign travel, and that certain vagaries 
and fantasies of your youth are doubtless long ago corrected, 
— taking all these matters, I say, into due consideration, we 
are of opinion that Providence hath sent you hither at this 
juncture for our very purpose." 

During this harangue Cranfield gazed fixedly at the 
speaker, as if he beheld something mysterious and un- 
earthly in his pompous little figure, and as if the squire had 
worn the flowing robes of an ancient sage instead of a 
square-skirted coat, flapped waistcoat, velvet breeches and 
silk stockings. Nor was his wonder without sufiicient cause, 
for the flourish of the squire's staflT, marvellous to relate. 


had described precisely the signal in the air which was to 
ratify the message of the prophetic sage whom Cranfield 
had sought around the world. 

"And what," inquired Ralph Cranfield, with a tremor in 
his voice — " what may this office be which is to equal me 
with kings and potentates ?" 

" No less than instructor of our village school," answered 
Squire Hawkwood, " the office being now vacant by the 
death of the venerable Master Whitaker after a fifty years' 

" I will consider of your proposal," replied Ralph Cran- 
field, hurriedly, " and will make known my decision within 
three days." 

After a few more words the village dignitary and his 
companions took their leave. But to Cranfield's fancy their 
images were still present, and became more and more in- 
vested with the dim awfulness of figures which had first 
appeared to him in a dream, and afterward had shown 
themselves in his waking moments, assuming homely aspects 
among familiar things. His mind dwelt upon the features 
of the squire till they grew confused with those of the vis- 
ionary sage and one appeared but the shadow of the other. 
The same visage, he now thought, had looked forth upon 
him from the Pyramid of Cheops ; the same form had beck- 
oned to him among the colonnades of the Alhambra ; the 
same figure had mistily revealed itself through the ascending 
steam of the Great Geyser. At every effort of his memory 
he recognized some trait of the dreamy messenger of des- 
tiny in this pompous, bustling, self-important, little-great 
man of the village. Amid such musings Ralph Cranfield 
sat all day in the cottage, scarcely hearing and vaguely an- 
swering his mother's thousand questions about his travels 
and adventures. At sunset he roused himself to take a 
stroll, and, passing the aged elm tree, his eye was again 
caught by the semblance of a hand pointing downward at 
the half-obliterated inscription. 


As Cranfield walked down the street of the village the 
level sunbeams threw his shadow far before him, and he 
fancied that, as his shadow walked among distant objects, 
so had there been a presentiment stalking in advance of 
him throughout his life. And when he drew near each ob- 
ject over which his tall shadow had preceded him, still it 
proved to be one of the familiar recollections of his infancy 
and youth. Every crook in the pathway was remembered. 
Even the more transitory characteristics of the scene were 
the same as in by-gone days. A company of cows were 
grazing on the grassy roadside, and refreshed him with their 
fragrant breath. " It is sweeter," thought he, " than the 
perfume which was wafted to our ship from the Spice 
Islands." The round little figure of a child rolled from a 
doorway and lay laughing almost beneath Cranfield's feet. 
The dark and stately man stooped down, and, lifting the 
infant, restored him to his mother's arms. " The children," 
said he to himself, and sighed and smiled — " the children 
are to be my charge." And while a flow of natural feeling 
gushed like a well-spring in his heart he came to a dwelling 
which he could nowise forbear to enter. A sweet voice 
which seemed to come from a deep and tender soul was 
warbling a plaintive little air within. He bent his head 
and passed through the lowly door. As his foot sounded 
upon the threshold a young woman advanced from the 
dusky interior of the house, at first hastily, and then with 
a more uncertain step, till they met face to face. There 
was a singular contrast in their two figures — he dark and 
picturesque, one who had battled with the world, whom all 
suns had shone upon and whom all winds had blown on a 
varied course ; she neat, comely and quiet — quiet even in 
her agitation — as if all her emotions had been subdued to 
the peaceful tenor of her life. Yet their faces, all unlike 
as they were, had an expression that seemed not so alien — 
a glow of kindred feeling flashing upward anew from half- 
extinguished embers. 


" You are welcome home," said Faith Egerton. 

But Cranfield did not immediately answer, for his eye 
had been caught by an ornament in the shape of a heart 
which Faith wore as a brooch upon her bosom. The ma- 
terial was the ordinary white quartz, and he recollected 
having himself shaped it out of one of those Indian arrow- 
heads which are so often found in the ancient haunts of the 
red men. It was precisely on the pattern of that worn by 
the visionary maid. When Cranfield departed on his shad- 
owy search, he had bestowed thir brooch, in a gold setting, 
as a parting gift to Faith Egerton. 

" So, Faith, you have kept the heart ?" said he, at length. 

" Yes," said she, blushing deeply ; then, more gayly, 
"And what else have you brought me from beyond the sea ?" 

" Faith," replied Ralph Cranfield, uttering the fated 
words by an uncontrollable impulse, " I have brought you 
nothing but a heavy heart. May I rest its weight on you ?" 

" This token which I have worn so long," said Faith, lay- 
ing her tremulous finger on the heart, " is the assurance that 
you may." 

"Faith, Faith!" cried Cranfield, clasping her in his 
arms ; " you have interpreted my wild and weary dream !" 

Yes, the wild dreamer was awake at last. To find the 
mysterious treasure he was to till the earth around his 
mother's dwelling and reap its products ; instead of warlike 
command or regal or religious sway, he was to rule over the 
village children ; and now the visionary maid had faded 
from his fancy, and in her place he saw the playmate of his 

AVould all who cherish such wild wishes but look around 
them, they would oftenest find their sphere of duty, of 
prosperity and happiness, within those precincts and in 
that station where Providence itself has cast their lot. 
Happy they who read the riddle without a weary world- 
search or a lifetime spent in vain! 


(J <!. I